Hope Rooted in Promise

A beautiful, early fall day on a college campus last weekend found me to stumbling upon this sculpture--
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. Isaiah 25:8 (The artist is unknown to me. I am sorry I cannot give him credit.)


In the studio we are preparing for Advent. When I read scripture, such as this passage from Isaiah, I never cease to be in awe of connections made between the Old and New Testaments. I shouldn't be amazed because of course Gods plans and actions are all bound together! So we look forward to welcoming the baby Jesus at the end of November when we prepare our hearts for Christmas. This of course starts the cycle of the church recalling Christ's life and leads us to Easter when we remember that by his death the power of death was destroyed. I believe this is what Isaiah 25:8 refers to. 


This verse from Isaiah is an example of how God gives us visual images to help us relate to his message. "He will swallow up" is probably a reference to a whirlpool or violent, turbulent situation in the ocean. I don't know about you, but that presents a very scary image in my mind. Thankfully this image is presented to us so we'll know that God will abolish death and He will triumph. As we follow God's example of including an image to emphasize a point I wonder what you are planning for Advent? Will your worship space entice our senses with purple for royalty or blue for the heavens that we aspire to? Will you include hung banners, Bible book marks, or processional banners in these colors? Is your stole ready...cleaned and pressed? Maybe this year you'll wear a different stole for each Sunday of Advent with symbols that match how we move through the teachings of the season. And we know you won't neglect the visual possibilities when sharing the "children's moment" in worship. This is a great teaching time that usually speaks to everyone in the congregation--not just the children. Perhaps this is when you teach about the symbols we often take for granted during Advent such as the candles, the evergreens, or the Jesse tree. 


As we all prepare for Advent, I'll leave you with some thoughts from William Dyrness, professor of theology at Fuller Seminary..."paying attention to visual elements need not distract from the central elements of worship—preaching, prayer, singing—but can enhance and accompany them with a kind of visual continuo. Heaven is often pictured as a place where all our gifts will be given over to the eternal and joyful worship of God. In this respect our worship on earth can surely anticipate that celebration."