Sermon – Christmas Eve – 2018
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-7
Sermon Title: “Why Don’t We Have Peace?”
“I am going to pounce on you little lamb. That’s what lions do. They eat little lambs and even grown lambs. Here I come!” “Oh no, big lion! No, No, No! Not me. Not me! I thought we lived in the peaceable kingdom. Isn’t this the place of “Peace at Last?” “Oh-h-h-h. I forgot to be peaceable. I am so hungry.” “Well, listen Lion. Down the road is a McDonalds. Go there and eat your fill of hamburgers and then come back and lie down beside me and we can be friends.” “Okay, little lamb. Don’t go anywhere. I shall return.”
While lion is heading for McDonalds, I want to share this wonderful passage in Isaiah, a book in the Bible supposedly written by a man named Isaiah. Isaiah is talking about a king who will come sometime in the future. There is going to be peace when this king comes. Even the animals will be peaceful with each other.
Here it is.
Peace at Last
11 Like a branch that sprouts from a stump, someone from David’s family will someday be king.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will be with him to give him understanding, wisdom, and insight. He will be powerful, and he will know and honor the Lord.
3 His greatest joy will be to obey the Lord. This king won’t judge by appearances or listen to rumors.
4 The poor and the needy will be treated with fairness and with justice. His word will be law everywhere in the land.
5 Honesty and fairness will be his royal robes.
6 Leopards will lie down with young goats, and wolves will rest with lambs. Calves and lions will eat together and be cared for by little children.
7 Cows and bears will share the same pasture; their young will rest side by side. Lions and oxen will both eat straw.
You may know that normally these pairs of animals would not be sharing space like this story says. That is what is so great about this king. He is a special king. Tonight we are celebrating the birth of this king. Do we usually see kings lying in a manger? This king was sent by God to bring peace on the earth and God chose to send him as a baby. So here we are. The king is in the manger. This king really came as a baby more than 2000 years ago. Every year we re-enact the time he came as a baby to his parents, Mary and Joseph. The baby king’s name is Jesus.
In reality, Jesus grew up to be 30 years old. Then he spent 3 years walking around teaching and preaching, healing and praying. But no peace! Angry people were not about to give up easily and Jesus ended his time on earth and returned to heaven to be with God the Father. But that is such a good thing! From heaven Jesus can be with all of us at the same time. Jesus can listen to all of us at the same time. Jesus can soften our hearts so that we are kinder and gentler and can play and work even with people we don’t especially like. So why is this earth not filled with peace? God is giving us time to work this out. Peace needs to start with each of us. It is like a pebble which we might throw into a lake of water. Sometimes the circles expand easily. There are no barriers in the water. But sometimes there is a stick or a rock or a boat in the way which does not want to give in to the expanding circle so the circle falls apart.
Well, our spreading circles of peace may start well but they bump into obstacles. Then we start again with a new attempt at a spreading peace circle. Many times, we need God to intervene. We need God to soften the obstacle. So when the countries of the world see attempts at peace coming toward them, there is a choice. Shall the country be an obstacle or shall the country allow peace to spread?
I think Jesus is waiting and waiting for people on earth to succeed with this peace thing. However, I think that Jesus is rooting for us and helping us while he is waiting and we don’t even know it. Yesterday, Sunday, we talked about love. We wondered if God needs to be involved for people to be loving. I think God is involved in our lives even when we think we are doing things all by ourselves. I think God helps people to be loving even if they never go to church. The same with peace. I think God is working for his peaceable kingdom in each of us. But it is so much easier to keep at it if we work together as a congregation and claim Jesus as our companion from the beginning.
Are you wondering how long we need to keep trying for peace until the world is filled with peace? Even though Jesus is present with us all the time, the world is still not perfect. We are waiting for Jesus to come a second time – the “second coming” we say. That is when evil will be gone for good. It will be the perfect kingdom. Sisters and brothers will totally enjoy each other’s company. Political leaders in our country will like each other. Political leaders from various countries will respect each other and not covet what another country has. And animals who would normally eat each other and fight with each other will lie down together in peace.
“Lion you finally arrived!” “Yes, little lamb, I have a feeling of peace about me. Jesus is close to us. Let us settle together and let the calmness glide over us. Let’s keep the baby Jesus company with his peace covering us.” “Sure, lovely Lion.”