Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Swords and Plows

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

December 1:

Call:    Matthew 24: 36-44
Text:    Isaiah 2: 1-5
Candle:  Candle of Peace

            Swords and Plows

Take my hand and walk with me
Reach out your hand to still another
For today we start our journey
As family, friend, sister, brother.

This is Advent
   A journey to the celebration of the birth of the baby in Bethlehem
   A journey to the beginning of that baby's human life on this earth
   A journey that after his birth can lead us
to learning and living,    to sacrifice, and salvation
   A journey that is not a solo venture, but rather one taken
hand in hand with each other
   A journey to take us to the Christ himself.

Seven centuries ago, Dante in his "Divine Comedy" needed Virgil
To guide him on his journey through Hell and Pugatory
And that same Italian poet needed Beatrice
to guide him as he journeyed through Heaven;

Like Dante, we too need a guide - and we have one

Our guide on the journey we begin today   is Isaiah
   Both as prophet in the eighth century before Christ's birth
   And as the originator of a "school" of later OT prophets
      Who took on his name
      And who, for years after the death of the First Isaiah
  Continued to be instruments through whom God spoke

The prophet provides us with the help that we need
      To understand: What that birth means
      To understand: Who it is that was born
   and   To understand: Why he was born.

In addition, the prophet helps us to also understand
      Why it is that we take this journey
   And   What it is that we should expect to find available to us

And so we begin Advent this morning
   With some of the words God provided through our guide

From Isaiah 2: 1-5 ...

The scriptural mountain portrays Christ
   Rising above other significant persons
   Rising above other significant demands
      On our time, our love, our energy, and our resources.
   Rising, therefore, above everything else.

Our guide tells us that God's mountain is the highest
Making it so noticeable that we cannot help but see Him

So noticeable, so impressive, and so important
   That all the nations shall stream toward it

And many people will invite each other to join them on this journey, saying
   "Come, let us go to the house of the Lord."

An invitation that sets the example for what the resurrected Christ
Charges us to do
When at his ascension - his last day on the earth -
   he commissions us
   to be witnesses and make disciples of and for him
      throughout the earth.

To be those witnesses
To make those disciples
   We need to invite others to go with us to the house of the lord
   We need to say "Come let us go to the house of the Lord."

And so again I say,
Take my hand and walk with me
Reach out your hand to still another
For today we start our journey
As family, friend, sister, brother.

And if you ask "Why?"

I need only to refer you to Isaiah's words
   "That he may teach us his ways
   That we may walk in his paths
   FOR      out of Zion shall go forth instruction
   And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

You and I make this journey
   To seek that instruction
And   in order that we,
After receiving it
   Can follow Christ's path of love and sacrifice that.

Today, we begin that journey hand in hand together
   And guided by God's words through Isaiah

And today what Isaiah tells us is
That the Christ - the one whose birth we prepare to celebrate
      "shall judge between the nations
      and shall arbitrate for many peoples."

To those of us,
   Who have observed, participated, and even, at times, initiated
      Many conflicts and disputes
      Many battles and disagreements
This image of Christ gives confidence and comfort that
   that the child to be born in the Bethlehem manger
      Can resolve and will put an end to these

In turn, our confidence in that resolution
will enable us    and will inspire us
      To beat our swords into ploughshares
      and our spears into pruning hooks
so that
   "nation shall not lift up sword against nation"
and   "neither shall they learn war any more."

In other words, the reign of God will involve a transformation
      From nationalism, self centeredness, and conflict
      To unity, unselfishness, and peace  [NIB p. 68]

If we want that
(And everyone says he/she does)
it will be necessary for those of us who celebrate Christ's coming
      to trust Christ as judge and arbitrator
   and   to allow his teaching and instruction to transform us
         from men and women of swords and spears
            which kill and maim others
         into men and women of plows and pruning hooks
            which enable us to feed others.

And so, as we begin to
walk hand in hand,
and side by side

we find that the first lesson
of our journey to seek instruction
   and on which we ask others to come along with us
is to trust Jesus as judge and arbitrator
   so that we can convert
      our tools of war and conflict
   into  tools of peace unity and support

I hope that we take this lesson seriously
So that next week when I invite you to
      Take my hand and walk with me
   And to
Reach out your hand to still another

You will
continue our journey
And again do so in the spirit
Of family, of friend, of sister, of brother.

   That's the way it is
      On the first Sunday of Advent in the year 2013

The Candle Reading - December 1, 2013

The first Advent candle is the candle of peace.

It lights as a reminder that God through Isaiah told us
   That we should beat our swords into ploughshares
   And our spears into pruning hooks
And that
   Nation shall not lift up sword against nation
   Neither shall they learn war any more.

Those are God's words
   And they light the path we need to travel

We respond with the refrain from # 601