Comfort and Joy
By Rev. David Gregg
This year, our text for the third Sunday of Advent, whose theme is Joy, was the familiar promise of comfort from Isaiah 40: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” This is a pivotal moment in scripture, when the early voice of Isaiah, full of judgments and warnings and calls to repentance, shifts to a new voice, a word of forgiveness and reassurance. “God is not deaf to your cries,” says Second Isaiah; “Your delivery is at hand.” Of course, for followers of Jesus, we take “delivery” to mean something additional: the delivery of the child in whom we see revealed God’s love and power-in-vulnerability that pervades all creation.
by Rev. David Gregg
… suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
There is a certain kind of Christianity that gets labeled “pentecostal.” This branch of Christianity focuses on the presence of God’s Spirit at work in the church, and often features worship practices like speaking in tongues, faith healing, lively contemporary worship music, and even being slain in the spirt. Some of the members of North Shore have experienced this style of Christianity, and others haven’t. For some, it might seem foreign and unknown; for others, it is familiar and spiritually enriching. There are lots of different kinds of spiritual backgrounds here at North Shore — it’s one of our strengths!