December 10, 2017 – Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8

Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 1:1-8

Gently Lead them Home

Second Sunday of Advent – December 10, 2017

First Lutheran Church – Winnipeg, MB

Advent is a time of waiting – a time of waiting for God to come.

Children wait for Christmas when Jesus comes.

And I think part of the power of this season is waiting in hope.

Hope for a good time at Christmas, waiting to be with those we love,

waiting for that good feeling we seem to lack so much at other times of the year.

Waiting for the Christmas magic.

I think all of us are waiting – waiting for something better.

Waiting for something better in our lives – improved health, improved relationships,

improved living and working conditions.

And waiting for something better in our world – fairness, equity, an end to poverty,

an end to injustice, an end to environmental stress, an end to violence and strife.

Christmas, I think, taps into all these hopes, as we wait for better lives and a better world to be

unwrapped under the tree.

And Advent taps into the waiting and longing for better lives and a better world.


Isaiah addresses a people who are waiting and longing and crying out for a better day.

A people who live in exile from their home country, under the rule of a foreign power.

After 70 years, the prophet is told by God to announce comfort for them.

God is coming – a better day is coming.

God is coming in gentleness – God will finally gather the sheep in the divine arms and

gently lead them homeward.

God will come in gentleness and grace.


In Mark’s Gospel, John the Baptist addresses a people who have continued to wait,

who continue under foreign oppression, who wait in the midst of poverty,

and despair, and violence.

And in Mark, notice, there is no anger in John the Baptist’s language,

no axe striking at the root of the tree, no suspicion and condemnation.

Rather, John quotes the same passage from Isaiah, as if to comfort the people by saying,

“God is coming.  God is coming like a loving shepherd.  To gently lead you home,

to a better day.”

The people are waiting for a better day.

A better day that will come through gentleness.

For when God comes in Jesus, he tends the sheep like a shepherd.

He feeds them, he tends their wounds, he forgives their sins, he gathers them all together.

The better day, the new day, comes through gentleness.


At Advent, we await the birth of one who comes in gentleness.

We await one who comes in vulnerability as a small child and whose way of

transforming the world will be through gentleness.

The one who will lead us homeward – toward all that God intends for this world – gently.


I am through with believing in an all-powerful God.

I can no longer believe that God has the power to do absolutely anything.

Because I can’t believe in a God who could do something about injustice and stands idly by.

I can’t believe in a God who allows things to happen for whatever mysterious reason.

I can only believe in a God who is revealed fully and completely in Jesus.

A God who uses whatever power God has to simply be with us in gentleness and grace.

A God who uses gentleness, and healing, and feeding and forgiveness to bring in the new world

and the new day.

A God who remains present, gently and steadfastly, in the middle of our pain and difficulty,

mine and yours and the world’s – and who calls us to do the same.

A God who is Emmanuel – God with us.

Gently leading us homeward.


This season of Advent Carolyn has introduced to us new liturgical pieces based on the

very old Christian hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

Come to be with us, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Come and gently be with us – and stay with us.

Gently tend us and heal us and feed us – and forgive us.

Forgive us when we think that you are all powerful and can do anything so

we may as well do nothing.

Deal with us gently so that we might deal gently with others.


Paul writes, “Let your gentleness be known to everyone.”

Gentleness isn’t weak or fragile – it takes tremendous strength.

It takes a certain tremendous strength to steadfastly stay in the midst of suffering and pain.

It takes a certain tremendous strength to accompany and to love.

We live in times when the strong are not aspiring to deal gently with others but rather

to use their strength to lord it over others.

When Make America Great Again really means Make America Great for Whites Again.

And yet we are called to a different kind of strength – a strength expressed in gentleness,

in being-with, in welcoming, in hospitality, in feeding, in healing.


John called the people out to the wilderness to school them in a new way for the new day.

Share what you have, he counselled, walk two miles with one who asks you to walk one,

accompany one another, don’t take advantage of one another – and wait for the one who

comes in gentleness.

Who will lay down his life for love and forgiveness rather than for destruction or vengeance.

For this is how the new day of harmony and well-being for all people will come.

Keep doing what you are doing at Sargent and Victor: welcome all people,

strengthen and encourage one another, feed the hungry, forgive one another,

promote healing and well-being, love one another, and deal with everyone gently.

Do this: the new day will come.  It is already dawning. Right here at Sargent and Victor.

God is gently leading us homeward.

So together, let us say, “Amen.”

Pastor Michael Kurtz


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