(Photo: Lindy Twaddle)
On this third Sunday of Advent, we begin a new mini-series, this time on Advent Joy, featuring reflections by Rev. Andrew Gardner of the Scots Kirk in Brussels.
Isaiah 55:12-13 (The Voice)
12 For you will go out in joy, be led home in peace.
And as you go the land itself will break out in cheers;
The mountains and the hills will erupt in song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way
to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good.
And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One
and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever.
One of my favourite verses of the New Testament comes from the Prologue of the Gospel of John: ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14).
This is John’s way of summarising the Christmas story. God the Son, ‘the Word’, takes on human flesh – God incarnate. Surely this is something to rejoice about?
God in heaven does something for humankind – by means of the Incarnation as well as Christ’s ministry, the Cross, his Ascension and Resurrection – to redeem the situation that they are in. Once again something to rejoice about. However, God’s redemptive work in Christ is much more than about human beings; Christ redeems all of creation.
Near the end of the book of Revelation we read of the restoration of all of creation in terms of a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1). In our reading today, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah points to this very same thing: humanity and creation joyously restored and worshipping God together in perfect unity.
Praying the psalms
Let those who run to You for safety be glad they did;
let them break out in joyful song.
May You keep them safe —
their love for You resounding in their hearts.
Psalm 5:11 (The Voice)