Welcome back! This is Journey – Advent Week 3 (Published on Sunday 15th December) If you would like to find out more about the vision behind ‘Journey’, check out our intro video [here]. If you missed week 1 or 2 don’t worry, you can catch up [here – 1] and [here – 2] or, just join in from right now.
If you joined us last week, maybe take a moment as you start to give people an opportunity to share what they’ve been thinking about this week as you have reflected on your wondering questions.
Our “backdrop” passage for this set of Advent reflections is found in Isaiah Chapter 9 – lets give it a read once more to remind ourselves of these fantastic words – have someone in your family read this out
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne establishing and upholding it with justice and righeousness
from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9: 6-7
In week 1 we had a think about Jesus as our Wonderful Counsellor; in week 2 we considered Mighty God and this week we’re going to spend some time reflecting on the next “name” of Jesus in this passage : Everlasting Father!
Ask someone to pray – their own prayer, or just read these words, “Thank you God that while our circumstances might be challenging at times we can grow and develop as a family together knowing that you are our Everlasting Father .” Amen
This phrase, “Everlasting Father” appears just once in the Bible and it is here, in our theme passage from Isaiah. Yet, there are some lovely pictures elsewhere of God being everlasting and enteral that echo this phrase and bring us reassurance that – whilst all around us might change – our God is present, our God is with us – from beginning to end.
Psalm 90, which is a song of Moses, puts it like this – Have someone read it out.
God, it seems you’ve been our home forever;
long before the mountains were born,
Long before you brought earth itself to birth,
from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.
Psalm 90 : 1-2 (The Message)
I love that – from “once upon a time” to “Kingdom come”! Moses had seen it all. His story has a amazing parallels with Jesus (God so often does what He has done before – as if He is reminding us, constantly through scripture, “hey this is me!”) – Moses, like Jesus was rescued from a tyrant who would have had him killed; Moses, like Jesus spent time being prepared in the desert; Moses led God’s people to freedom after the blood of the lamb had been shed; Jesus IS the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world – through whom we all have freedom!
Moses remembers those “once upon a time” stories of God’s heroics with miracles and signs in Egypt and the desert – Moses doesn’t know what is to come, but having seen what the Everlasting One can do, he trusts what God is doing and hopes for the “Kingdom come”.
Take a moment. Can you think of other Old Testament characters who point us to the coming of Jesus like Moses does? These “once upon a time stories” point us to the “Kingdom come” as Jesus arrives on the scene!
There are some famous verses in Isaiah chapter 40 which prophetically tell of what our everlasting God will do,
A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God”
Isaiah 40 : 3 (NIV)
I always think of John the Baptist when I read that – as he steps out of the wilderness announcing the “Messiah is coming” . . . but, what I love most about Isaiah 40 is what comes later,
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40 : 28-29
The “once upon a time” God just keeps on going, like a Duracell bunny – as we wait for Jesus’ birth we can trust that the Everlasting Father has got us, has got this world, has got all things and never grows weary of coming to us and meeting us right where we are. “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
Talk about your “once upon a time” story with God. It’s not just Bible characters that have a God story to tell. This might be challenging, but God is in the big stuff and the small stuff of our lives – the times we remember, the times we’d rather forget. Our Everlasting Father has been with us through it all. Sometimes we get a glimpse of His had at work, or we know that He is with us – other times in our story we might feel He is distant or not even there. The Lord’s Prayer finishes with “Thy Kingdom Come, on earth as in Heaven” – How, in and through the stories you share, can you see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom? Take your time – no rush – maybe this is an action you re-vist through the week along with the wondering questions.
Take time to think over these wondering questions – by time, we means days . . . give each person in the family space to think their own thoughts, write, draw or say things that come to mind in their own time and at their own pace.
We were all involved in coming up with these in our family, and are going to stick them on our fridge as a reminder through the week – you might, of course, come up with some great wondering questions of your own.
- We all have times when it is easy to feel that God isn’t there. Can you think of times like that, when looking back now, you can see how the everlasting father was at work?
- Reflect on the story of God in your life – what stands out to you?
- What can you thank God for this week?
- Who in your life has encouraged you by sharing God’s story with you?
Re-connect and Reflect. Pick a time to come back together later in the week – maybe over a meal or at a time that works when everyone is around. Be prepared to share a little about what you have been wondering about.