"See there is your God" 2nd Sunday in Advent 2017

Friends, no part of the globe is untouched by Donald Trump's decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. There have been reactions from almost every part of the world. One thing worth reflecting about in this decision is that most of the world thinks that the decision has negative implication for the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Yet, this decision perhaps shows how brave President Trump is a person to travel the road may fear, a person not given to group pressure, follows his heart no matter whatever anyone else feels or thinks. Of course, there is greatness and weakness in such a life.  Whatever we may think, we must not forget that throughout the world's history God has used people often opposed to his will to accomplish his plan. In today's opening prayer, it is said, "May no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to his company”. Every person does battle within and outside of self.  The battle may be physical or spiritual within the cultural, social or economic spheres of life. Trump's decision may be best understood with a proper understanding of God’s word in the Torah. For us Christians, we should always try to recognize the signs of the time based on the word of God.

People have throughout the ages tended to celebrate the powers of darkness. Despite the spread of Christianity, many places are pagan and pagan acts have characterized and still pervade in many cultures in this age.  In 843 AD, Pope Gregorius IV was forced to move the celebration of All Saints from May 13 to November 1 to end the pagan celebration of ‘ghosts’ on November 1, a tradition that had originated from Ireland. In our time, this superstition continues in the celebration of Halloween, likened to singing hosanna to Satan. Here in Sweden, December 13 was a day when many Swedes celebrated the belief that the spirits of all those buried in the church cemeteries wake up to occupy all the seats in their parishes. For fear, no swede attended Mass on that day. They locked themselves   inside their homes. Today's Lucia celebration on December 13 became a response from the Church to break this superstition.

It is easy and natural for us Christians to say that we love Jesus, but hard to show this love in deeds by living in accordance with the word of God. Prayer is good and important, but when used as a substitute for good deeds, it will be nothing but hypocrisy. That's what John means when he writes "Let's not love with empty words and speak without works" (1Joh 3:18). In the time we are, Christians need to be strong, resolute and faithful in following the words of the Lord, so that we have success in everything we do. If we are to succeed, the Lord must go before us as the Ark of the Covenants went before the Israelites when they passed the Jordan.

Of importance is what the Apostle Peter reminds of about when he writes that for the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. Many have lost, and many risk losing faith because it feels like what the Lord said about his second coming is never going to take place (2 Pet 3: 8-14). It seems to many that the Lord is delaying and will never fulfil his promise. Time and time again, the gospel reminds us that the Lord's Day comes as a thief at night. Those who have ears should hear. The Lord’s supposed delay is for our good, desiring that none should ever perish but have eternal life.

The weapons we are fighting with are not fleshly but have the power of God to break down strongholds. Yes,we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:4-5) Paul writes to the Corinthians that the god of this age has blinded the mind of the unfaithful so that they do not see the light radiating from the gospel of Christ's glory-he who is the image of God (2 Cor 4: 4). The Lord of this darkness has blinded their eyes, oh, magnifying their hearts so that they do not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts (John 12:40). By breaking down all that is against God, we prepare the way for the Lord. Hopelessness, unbelief, despair like valleys are filled and mountains levelled with the Lord's power and courage, the mountains and heights of arrogance reduced in our lives to prepare the way for the Lord.  It is only then the glory of the Lord will be revealed. We have all received all the blessings that are in heaven. Each of us is blessed. Satan cannot stop God from blessing us, but he can make us feel not blessed, powerless, hopeless, worried, desperate, and confused. We must hold these feelings, imaginations, pictures in our mind captive by the knowledge of Christ the Lord, this Advent.

Every thought raised against the followers of the Lord shall be defeated in the name of the Lord. It does not happen with your own powers but by the Spirit of God. When the Lord is with us, no one can stand against us. Whoever the Lord blesses, no one can cause. The door the Lord opens, no one can close. A hard defeat awaits everyone moving against the word of God. Like a voice shouting in the desert at the time of John the Baptist, the same voice shouts at all times inviting all to repentance.  The word of God constantly rings and invites to repentance - to return to God. It is primarily in our brain that the battle takes place. The one who is victorious in the brain will also conquer physically. It does not matter what you do with your mouth and your body if they do not agree with your brain, it's in vain. Therefore, it is said that it is first in the brain and the heart that we serve God. In the name of the Lord we no longer live as the Gentiles, says Paul to the Ephesians (4: 17-19). He who hates his brother is in the dark and walks in the dark. He does not know where he is because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:11). The person who has won the battle of the brain sees God and lives in him. This person lives in harmony with God's purpose with his or her life.

Rise, God calls on his people. It is about changing perspectives and thinking. God has thought about us and always thinking about us. High mountains must be levelled, the heights must be lowered, and the valleys must be filled. The ground becomes slippery for the people to go forth in the protection of the glory of God.  All who live in mercy and righteousness shall experience this favour.

Nevertheless, despite the very gross sins of the people, God was willing to keep his promise to Abraham. The text being read today is a poetry full of hope and encouragement. The days of sorrow are over for Jerusalem and Israel will be revered again and known to the whole world. It is clear that something more than just the return from Babylon is meant here. The Prophet points to the people of God who are to be characterized by righteousness toward God and to fellow human beings. Justice is the only foundation for peace and true worship of God.

Webbdesign: Peter Tynkkynen