What are your names? I’m not asking only about the names given to you at birth. I’m wondering also about the names assigned to you by others, the labels used to identify you, the titles that have brought you honor or shame… Do you need to discover the new name or names God has for you? Do you need to know that you are a Saint, one of God’s holy people, set apart for God and his purposes?
Do you ever think of yourself as a priest of the Lord? If you happen to be a clergyperson in the Anglican, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox traditions, then you can easily answer this question in the affirmative. But what if you’re a salesperson, a business owner, a medical professional, or a cabinetmaker? Do you see yourself as a priest of God? Isaiah 61:6 would urge you to do so. As would the broad sweep of the biblical narrative.
When God brings his peace and justice to the world through the Messiah, God will not miraculously and instantaneously remake the broken world. Rather, the people who have been redeemed and set free by the Messiah will do this work. Specifically, we will “rebuild” and “restore” and “renew.” God doesn’t do everything for us. Instead, God does what God alone can do, and then invites us to partner with him in his work.
In this season of Advent, we remember the announcement of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest.” May our remembrance encourage us to live for God’s glory each day, in every avenue of life, at home and at work, in our neighborhoods and in the shopping malls, in our spending and in our giving, in our speaking and in our silence.
In this season of Advent, we join the Jewish people in their longing for the fullness of peace and righteousness. We are preparing to celebrate the coming of the “Prince of Peace,” who will govern his kingdom “with justice and righteousness” (Isa 9:6-7). Jesus has come—and will come again—to fulfill the vision of Isaiah 60. Peace will be our governor and well-being our ruler.
For many of us, our literal homecomings can be wonderful. But for others, they are fraught with difficulty and pain… When we gather with our families for the holidays, we sometimes realize how much we aren’t really “at home,” how much we ache for an acceptance we’ll never know with our natural relatives, how desperately we yearn for a real home in which we can feel fully at peace. This yearning can point us to our heart’s true home.
For many of us, being at home for the holidays is one of life’s greatest joys. But not for all of us. Many people experience holiday homecoming with considerable ambivalence. Yes, it can feel good to be back on familiar turf and to spend time with relatives and old friends. But some of these relationships may still be tainted with pain… How can we find God’s grace when coming home is hard?
There will be a time when God will make his home among us, and we will be fully at home with him in the new creation. For Christians who pay attention to the liturgical year (or church year or Christian year), we have just entered the season of Advent. In this season, we remember when God came in Jesus to make his home with us, and we look forward to the future homecoming of God.
Our passage from Isaiah 60 reminds us that we are to reflect God’s glory into the dark world around us. As we communicate God’s truth, as we reach out with his love, as we offer forgiveness and mercy, as we live and speak and work differently, people will see God’s glory through us and be drawn to him. That is an essential element of our high calling as Christians.
If we want God’s words to guide the lives of the next generations, including our own children and grandchildren, then we need to commit ourselves to this goal. It will impact how we live each day and how we function together as the church. It will require new authenticity, openness, and integrity. We have no more important calling than to pass on our faith to the next generations.