His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home; make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery:
These words have been declared in scripture for millennia and in song for centuries, and we are still anticipating endless peace, justice and righteousness. The words of Isaiah speak of an earthly kingdom but the carol speaks of a heavenly one. The hope expressed in the carol has shifted from being in the here and now, to there and thereafter. The constant prayer of the Church is for God’s Kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven, but when faced with the reality of life we tend to console ourselves with life after death.
But what if we change the imagery? If we live and declare that heaven can be experienced on earth, that it’s gates can open here rather than on the other side of the sky, and that we all can play our part in barricading the path to misery.
I’m sorry to cast a shadow on the joy we are celebrating at Christmas, but our faith demands that we strive to make every day Christmas Day. In each and every day we celebrate, follow, and share the good news of God in Christ. This isn’t a personalised gift, a sanitised nativity scene, or a message decorated with lights and tinsel. In the person of Jesus, we see God’s love lived and declared to everyone. We aren’t called to celebrate peace on earth as a nice idea, we are called to live it out and strive to make it a reality for everyone.
In Christ we see heaven breaking into earth, peace, justice and righteousness lived and expressed, and the path to misery barricaded with every ounce of his strength, will and spirit. As his disciples we are called to the same divinely inspired and affirming task.
Spirit of Christ,
enter into our hearts anew
and offer us a taste of heaven.
Fling wide our arms in welcome,
to embrace God’s love for us and for everyone.
Show us the opportunities that exist before each of us
to share God’s love
and give us the hope, courage and strength to strive on
despite setbacks and disappointments.
May God’s Kingdom to come,
on earth as it is in heaven.
The Rev’d Dave Coaker is the minister of Leyland and Penwortham URCs in Lancashire.