Sunday Recap: December 16th, 2018

Happy Tuesday everyone! This year in our “Signs of the Savior” sermon series we’ve been looking at the signs that point to the coming of Jesus in the scriptures. We’re also looking at signs of Jesus’ activity in our own lives. Last Sunday was another celebration of the signs that Jesus is at work in the life of our church as we heard a report from our Missions chair Carolyn Lippmann who told us about a few of the projects that TCC has supported this past year. Here are some pictures from our supported missionaries:

Carolyn wrapped up her missions moment saying they are planning a trip to Haiti next year, and if you are interested in joining the ongoing work in Haiti to reach out to her. There is a special need for those who have experience in solar panel installation or general engineering.

Student Ministry Worship

In Student ministries, Kate Unruh, a volunteer leader in the Student Ministries program, shared her powerful testimony. A beautiful sign of the savior is God’s work in Kate’s life, and in the lives of the other leaders and students.

Listen to the Sermon

December 16, 2018  Rev. Dr. Tom Petter is the Senior Pastor. Isaiah 35:3-6; 3 Strengthen the weak hands,     and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who have an…

Pastor’s Note: The lame shall walk

Read Isaiah 35: 1-10.

After “Balaam the Son of Beor, whose eyes are open,” and Zechariah, whose tongue was loosened to sing the praises of God, we now come to the ‘sign of Isaiah’ the mighty prophet.  How ironic, the one who so ably foretells of the coming savior (see Isaiah 53; Isaiah 9, Isaiah 11, etc.!)  finds himself spiritually unable to move toward him.  For Isaiah it came in a very sudden way when “he saw the Lord high and lifted up” and captured a glimpse of His holiness (another word for ‘otherness’; see Isaiah 6:1-7).  His reaction? “woe is me, I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips” he cries out.  When faced with the glory of the Lord, Isaiah knows that he falls short of the very glory that’s been revealed to him.  As he aptly describes in Isaiah 53:6, “all we like sheep have gone astray, we each have gone to our own way….” Isaiah doesn’t have the mobility to move toward the Savior.  Isaiah’s telling us, we are too weak to make it on our own.  

So, how are we going to make this journey to the manger?  

Isaiah says, “Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees” (Isaiah 35:3) because “your God… will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4).  What he means is not that we should pull ourselves by the bootstraps and tough it out.  Instead, it’s in the waiting for His coming and it’s in the coming of the Lord that our buckling knees and our spiritual immobility is transformed into mobility towards Him.  For Isaiah the transformation happened when a lump of hot coal removed his guilt and sin before God (Isaiah 6:10).  Isaiah receives forgiveness of sin and God’s holiness as a gift (see 1 Corinthians 1:30 “sanctification=holiness”). The image of the coals from the altar introduces us to the image of the sacrifice of Jesus that is to come. It ‘s only through Jesus Himself that we are forgiven of our sin and can stand before the holiness of God. As Amy Grant’s song “welcome to our world” so beautifully says it:

“you’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting, welcome holy child…rob our sin and make us holy, perfect Son of God, welcome to our world.” 

Amy Grant, “Welcome to Our World”

Without holiness no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and we are completely immobilized.   Unless God gives us His holiness, we have no way of finding ourselves on the right path, let alone ride his highway of holiness.  

The strength comes also in the waiting. Isaiah tells us how these buckling knees become ‘bone-strong’ again (the meaning of the original).  At the end of chapter 40 (one of the most magisterial chapters in the entire Bible), Isaiah says, and I paraphrase some of it:  ‘even the strongest among us will run out of strength, they will buckle and be immobilized; but those who wait for His coming will renew their strength… and soar like eagles, they will walk and not faint, run and not be weary” (Isaiah 40:29-31).  It’s in the waiting that our strength is renewed. It’s in the waiting that we become mobilized to action, riding the highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8)

Where are you on this journey to the manger, on this highway to holiness?

 You may find yourself depleted, by your own shortcomings, those of others or, most likely, a bit of both. Maybe you are slowly coming to the realization that you do not have the strength to find your way during this Holiday Season. Take heart and hear the Good News: Christmas is about those who have lost their way and find themselves exhausted and anxious of heart (Isaiah 35:4):  God who is coming to us  to save us, to give us mobility so that we can in turn walk and not be weary: “how beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim Good News (the Gospel)” (Isaiah 52:7)!

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