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

Wolf & Lamb

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

December 8:

Call:    Romans 15: 4-13
Text:    Isaiah 11: 1-10
Candle:  Harmony

         Wolf & Lamb

I love reading the prophets
   I first developed a relationship with them
   In my second year at Wesley Theological Seminary

When I met them, it was like a door being unlocked.
   They made the OT so much more meaningful to me
And   They gave me a much greater understanding of the NT
      Than I possibly could have had without them.

My relationship with the prophets
enriched my faith and strengthened my ability to serve.

So it is a great joy
to have Isaiah
whose words help us answer the question
"What Child Is This?"
be our guide   on our Advent journey

This morning Isaiah guides us toward that answer by telling us
   That a new king will come from the stump of Jesse
      (that is David's father)

his words are great, hopeful and exciting
[Isaiah 11: 1-5]

This new king will get his power and authority
   From the spirit of the Lord which will rest upon him

This new king will be
   Wise and understanding

He will be powerful and give great advice.
He will be knowledgeable and in awe of the Lord.

He will judge the poor with righteousness
   And decide equitably for the meek.

That is exactly what we want in a king, a ruler, a leader
   Unless, of course, we are a part of the establishment
And are content with the status quo.

From this initial portion of the scripture we take hope
   We even want to celebrate
   For we are convinced that such a leader
While rare is not impossible.
   We can imagine and visualize that leader.

These words make for a great Advent scripture
   They clearly help us understand what to expect from Jesus:
      Wisdom, understanding and righteousness
   And - I would add -
      From ourselves as those who claim to be His followers.

There are lots of good messages in this portion of the scripture
It is the second part of the scripture that I felt called to share.

The part that spoke to me even more strongly
was the part that connected us
with other parts of our service:
   The Candle of Harmony
And   Paul's prayer in Romans where he wrote,
      "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement
      Grant you to live in harmony with one another
      In accordance with Jesus Christ

      So that together     you may with one voice
         Glorify the God and Father
         Of our Lord Jesus Christ.."

And in this second part Isaiah tells us:     [Isaiah 11: 6-9]

And, in conclusion [11:10] he added:
   "On that day,
   The root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples."

That day is when this king and messiah rules.

And this second portion of the scripture
   Paints a picture of what it will be like

Interestingly, most of us have literally seen this picture
   For while Isaiah painted the picture with words on paper
   Edward Hicks painted it with oils on canvass
      Hicks titled it    "The Peaceable Kingdom"

Actually, Hicks painted several versions of "Peaceable Kingdom"
   I got to see nearly a dozen of them several years ago
when they were on display
at the Fennimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.

They fascinated me.
They comforted me.

But as fascinating and as comforting as the paintings are
   They seem like fantasy

For while we are convinced that the
   Wise, understanding, righteous leader of the first portion
Was real
and while we can imagine having a similar leader from his followers
few of us are able to image
      the wolf with the lamb
      the calf and the lion and the fatling
      the bear and the cow grazing together.

But I do not believe that Isaiah was talking about animals.

I am convinced that those animals are simply images
   To help us realize that we can get along with each other
      If    we follow the king.

I think that the animals are to us
   What the communion bread is to Christ's body
   And what the wine is to his blood.
      Visual aids to teach and show.

With those aids,
I can imagine people who are enemies and combatants
      Living in peace

But peace is primarily a passive concept
   An absence of something
An absence of strife, conflict, and fighting
      "Let     there be    peace on earth"

And so it is important to note

That I can also imagine people who are enemies and combatants
   Living in harmony

And harmony is a more active concept
   Harmony is not       merely not fighting
   But is also          doing things together
   "Walk    with each other      in perfect harmony."

Harmony is an orchestra or choir
   Doing different things
with different sounds
and different ranges and notes
to create or produce
something greater and more substantial
than they could create or produce alone.

So it can be with God's children as well.

In other words, I can imagine people
   Living like our first two Advent candles.

And I would suggest that those skeptical of this
must not have read a paper
must not have watched television news
must not have used their computers
to see what has been the biggest story
since some time on Thursday.

For Nelson Mandela died that day.
   And if there is anyone in our lifetimes
   Whose life - at least the last quarter century of it -
      Brought Isaiah's words and Hicks' paintings alive

It was Mandela,

   Son of a Methodist mother
   Baptized as a Methodist
   Educated in Methodist schools

Mandela must have been familiar with those words.
And Mandela was probably familiar with those paintings.

For when he got out of prison after 27 years,
   He lived the message of those words and pictures.

As we know, whites were a minority in South Africa
   But they ran the government
   And they imposed apartheid
to control and oppress the majority blacks.

This was what Mandela fought against before his imprisonment

His fight against the policy
   Is what resulted in that imprisonment

When he was finally released
   As a result of pressure from the US and others
Nelson Mandela could have emerged
   A bitter and vengeance seeking man
   Someone who would turn the tables on his enemies
      And move from oppressed to oppressor.

But he didn't.

He wanted peace and he wanted harmony

He explained this to the rest of us,
   "If you want to make peace with your enemies
   you have to work with your enemy.
      Then he becomes your friend."
When Mandela became the first black president of South Africa
   He formed not a "black government"
   But a "rainbow Government"

That government's ministers were made up of
   Blacks, whites, and Indians,
   Muslims and Christians.

It was made up of    people

Mandela was described by a Swedish historian as having
   "an abiding dedication to diversity, inclusion, and universal human rights,
         while preserving ethnic and cultural differences."
            (USA Today 12/6/2013 at p. 2A)

The government Mandela established
   Was an orchestra or choir.
   Working and living together
   To create one voice from several.

Isn't it a remarkable gift
that in a week when our scripture paints a word picture of a 'peaceable kingdom"
   we were reminded that it is possible
By the death of a man
who brought those words and that picture alive
by the way he lived his life.

And thus we have been guided toward the birth
   Of the one who tells us to do the same.

UMH 431