4 December 2019

Isaiah 2:1-5

Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 16


The expression of hope is a dominant theme during the Advent season. The readings and hymn for today really focus our attention on our need for, and expression of, hope. When we find ourselves in all manner of situations, we turn to God in hope.

Parents amongst us might know that if, at this time of year, our children write a letter to Father Christmas then they are highly likely to get a response. The Post Office doesn’t just consign such letters to the dustbin. At this time of year staff are assigned to intercept such mail and to send a response.

Did you know that you could write to God? There is a post office in Jerusalem that is the final destination for any mail, from any country, which is addressed to God. Letters come from all over the world. Unlike the letter to Father Christmas, there is no process for responding. What does happen, however, is that one of the postal workers takes the letters to the Western Wall, a remnant of the ancient Second Temple compound in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holist site, where people push tiny notes of prayer in the cracks between the stones of the wall. A spokesperson for the Israeli postal service said that, “from there, it is not in our hands!”

Back to the letters to Father Christmas. The official international site for sending letters to Father Christmas in the tiny town of Rovaniemi in Finland. Again, all letters receive a reply and, again, most receive a pro forma response. There are some, however, who receive a personal response from a team of volunteers from surrounding towns. The volunteers see everything that s going on in the world through the letters. Children in war-torn areas ask Father Christmas to send them peace on earth. Children whose parents are dying ask for the miracle of healing. One child may ask for the latest Hatchimals toy whilst another child on the other side of the globe may ask for an artificial limb to replace the hand or leg that was blown off by the landmine.

There is a universal need to connect with God; we all look up and call for God to listen to our needs. There is universal need for God and a universal need for peace. Isaiah writes, “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (v. 4)

That's where it begins – it begins with us as we seek to be God's people in the world – loving our neighbours as Christ has loved us. The Advent season speaks to our need for God and the world's need for peace, and it shows us a better way – the way of love.


To Ponder:

  • What do you hope for and how do you express your hope? Do your prayers express your hope for better things for yourself and for the wider world?
  • How do our prayers, and the prayers of other, contribute to our challenge to act?
  • How do we keep praying and holding onto our faith when what we hope for does not seem to come about?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Adrian Burdon

The Rev Dr Adrian Burdon is Superintendent Minister of the Shaw & Royton Circuit in the Manchester & Stockport District. Adrian has been a presbyter since 1988 and, in addition to urban Lancashire, has worked on the Fylde Coast, in Leeds City Centre, the North East of England and as a mission partner in the South Pacific. Adrian is Chair of the CTBI Writing group, which writes material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and serves on the liturgical subcommittee of the Methodist Church.

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