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

Blind and Deaf

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December 15:

Call:    Matthew 11: 2-11
Text:    Isaiah 35: 1-10
Candle:  Observing

Last week, I shared with you how the prophets unlocked
both the Old and the New Testaments for me.

And I told you how fascinated I am by them.

In fact so important are they to me,   that, a little over a year ago,
I created and taught a lay speaking class
   On reading and preaching the prophets.

In the course, I wrote what I called the
   "Ten Commandments for Understanding The Prophets"

And while I know fully well that unlike the ones Moses received
   there will never be a movie about the commandments I wrote,
      I do believe
      That they are quite useful

Commandments nine and ten come to my mind this morning
   As we rejoin one of the those prophets,
   Our guide on our Advent journey,
      The OT prophet Isaiah.

Number nine on my list was
   "Read the prophets on more than one dimension"

And I elaborated that those dimensions include:
   "What they were saying to the people of the prophet's day;
   What they were saying about the coming messiah;
And   What they say to us today."

And, of course, during the Advent season
   As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ,
      the accent is on the second and third of the dimensions

The tenth commandment   supplements the words of the ninth
   "Read them aloud."
And here I editorialized,
   "If we cannot read them aloud,
   it means that we probably do not understand them."

Therefore, to try to help us grasp this week's word from our guide
I am going to read Isaiah's words aloud
And I want you to hear them on more than one dimension
   Particularly what they say about the messiah
   And what they say to us today.

In the ten verses that make up this morning's text,
Isaiah gives us a pep talk
By weaving words of hope with words of instruction

He begins with hope  [Isaiah 35: 1-2]

With those introductory words
   We know we are in for something new
We know we are in for something glorious.

It is only after we have been advised
that we will be singing and rejoicing
that we receive some instruction.      [Isaiah 35: 3-4]

So, in amongst song and joy
   There is a job - for us

Our job is to strengthen
the weak and trembling hands  our own and those of others
Our job is to strengthen
the quivering and feeble knees   our own and those of others

For those hands and those knees reveal fearful hearts
once again,             our own and those of others

We are to do so with encouragement and assurance

We are to do so, by proclaiming
   "Here is your God"
   "He will come and save you."

Isn't that the message of Advent?
   Where we say that the messiah/king will come and save
   Where we expect to rejoice and sing on Christmas
      As we proclaim that day as the angels did,
   By pointing to that city
By pointing to that stable
By pointing to that manger
      And announcing to the world
         "Here is your God"

Isn't this why we pleaded through our song this morning,
   "Savior of the Nations Come"
   a song that concludes with a prayer that we
"let our faith shine ever new"

And in his words, Isaiah follows those instructions with
   What I believe to be both  A picture of the kingdom
   And   a guide to what we must be like  [Isaiah 35: 5-7]
On the one hand Isaiah tells us that in Christ's kingdom
   The physical ailments will be no more
The blind can see    the deaf can hear,   the lame can leap
and the natural world's problems will be corrected.

He makes it sound like  in Christ's kingdom
even Jim Barnes will be able to carry a tune.

But on another dimension, Isaiah in the next verse informs us
"A highway shall be there
and it shall be called the Holy Way"
and thereby he tells us that
as we move on that highway toward that kingdom
We must do so with seeing eyes and unstopped ears
We must do so without letting
whatever it is that makes us and our efforts lame
interfere with our joy in Christ.

We must see what He has done and what He is doing
We must hear what He has said and what He is saying
We must take seriously, the candle of observing
   And our observations of Christ must become a part of us.

At Christmas we ask,    "What child is this?"
John asked the same question of the adult Christ
   When he sent his disciples to Jesus and inquired,
      "Are you the one ...?"

Jesus' answer to was to refer back to Isaiah
   "Go and tell John what you hear and see.

This Advent, this Christmas, you and I must hear and see
   We must observe Christ's life, love, teachings, and sacrifice
We cannot allow ourselves to be blind or deaf or lame
   If we want to walk on God's highway to Christ's kingdom.