The Knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-10)
Rob Tennant, HillSong Church, Chapel Hill, NC
Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2016
A few years ago my father did something not many church goers do. He took a sabbatical from his church. He is a deacon and a Bible study leader. But for six weeks, he visited other congregations. Before doing this, he told his pastor and his the class he taught. “I am not leaving our church,” he assured them. “I am just visiting other congregations.”
Dad is a Baptist in Roanoke, VA. On his Sabbatical, he went to the downtown Episcopalian Church. He went to the Greek Orthodox Church in town. One Sunday, he attended the large, downtown Catholic Church. For six weeks, he was with the body of Christ worshipping, but not with his home church. And when the Sabbatical was over, he resumed his duties in his home church. He came back with a bigger sense of the body of Christ and a fuller picture of who God is.
One of the highlights was the Catholic Church. My dad’s church is almost exclusively Caucasian. There is diversity. The church has a lot of age diversity. It is comprised of many generations. There is surely ideology diversity. Whenever 300 or 400 people are gathered, you have different ideas. However, ethnically, racially, and socioeconomically, dad’s church is pretty uniform. In the Catholic Church, during the mass when they took the body and blood of Christ, the people went to the front, and it was people from every tribe and nation. Black, white, Asian, young, old, rich, poor; each feasted on the offering of Jesus.
The racial and ethnic diversity blew my dad away because he doesn’t see that every week in church. As people proceeded to the front he felt a divine appropriateness. This felt right. At the Lord’s Table, that’s where the world should gather in peace and love.
Isaiah saw it coming. God’s would usher in a new day, a day in which we embrace one another and together stand in the light of God’s love. Isaiah painted it for us in unexpected hues. The wolf nuzzling the lamb; the leopard cuddling the baby goat; the grizzly palling around with the heifer; Isaiah saw peace extending throughout creation and this peace stood upon the one filled with the Spirit of the Lord. We read in the New Testament that at his baptism, the Holy Spirit rested on Jesus. Then, that same Spirit filled him and drove him to ministry.
The Spirit drove Jesus to a wilderness confrontation with Satan. The Spirit affirmed him at the transfiguration, and comforted him before he went to the cross for us.
We stand, seeing the same peace Isaiah saw. We stand on who we are in Christ.
This morning, in his name, we gather at the table confessing our sins and receiving his grace. All are invited to come and receive the bread – his body broken for our sins. All are invited to drink from the cup – his blood poured out for us. As you come, open your heart to God and receive the grace and love he has for you. As you wait to approach, take note of those who are around you, waiting their turn at the table. We are part of a community of faith, the family of God. Look at your brothers and sisters in Christ. See the community of which you are part. Even if this is your first time among us, you are a part of us because God brought you here. So come. Receive the blessing of God, forgiveness and new life.