December 2, 2012

“We Want”
Isaiah 40:1-8
Philippians 4:10-13

I fondly remember days before Christmas, pouring over the “Big Book,” not the bible, the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. There I could dog ear pages of toys I wanted so that mom and dad would not have any confusion about what I wanted.

I will confess that there are one or two items on my wish list this year. How about you? But there is not really any-thing that can satisfy the real sense of desire I have.

All too often, what I really, deeply, want is far beyond my control. What I really desire isn’t something that can be stuffed in a stocking or nicely wrapped in colorful paper and tied with a bow.

There is a basic human hunger for more that we often try to assuage with stuff. I am not complaining about our materialism, I am saying that it is a form of self-medication. The satisfaction we feel with stuff is a Band-Aid over a wound that goes deeper.

I want to know that God has given me gifts, abilities if you will, that I can use in my everyday life; and that as I use them, I am serving, I am worshiping. I want to know that I am appreciated, or that my efforts are. I want to know that despite my imperfections and foibles I am accepted.

The simple answer to this most basic of needs, of course, is Christ. Christ can transform our wants into profound wonder. It is a moment of grace to be satisfied.

My great grandfather lived with my grandparents late in life. After every meal, not matter what it was, he was said to comment: “I have received a great sufficiency.” It is this sense I yearn for. I suspect that I am not alone.

In that moment, my wants do not disappear with the sudden presence of Christ, but with my awareness of His presence, my longing is transformed, overcome, superseded, and trumped by the reality of God’s presence with me.

The other day we were reading from Luke’s gospel of the feeding of the 5000. The disciples were asked to feed a crowd with rather meager rations. Jesus blessed and broke, the disciples distributed, and all were satisfied…this is the miracle we participate in today. One of the members of the bible study said, “In the same way, our hunger is satiated with a tiny bit of bread and a sip of wine; but only because of the presence of Christ.”

The text from Isaiah this morning is often referred to as the opening of Second Isaiah. The setting is not on earth, it is in heaven. The prophet receives a message from God that reveals something of the nature of the messiah we seek. This messiah’s power is not rooted in violence, it is not made evident through force. The messiah’s power is in comfort.

Of course it is tempting to be comforted by the comforts of life. So we want them. Some times we even think we need them, a bigger, a better, an adjective of some sort that we home will satisfy. Who really wants to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves in? We know that the division of wealth in this country is widening. We all face difficulties of health or wealth. Wouldn’t it be better to just not have any wants?
St. Paul says something about this situation, but it is strange: “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” It is so hard to not want something, and then God comforts us right where we are at.