“The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”  -Isaiah 2: 1-15

As we begin the season of Advent this Sunday, the scripture from Isaiah starts us out with a vision of how to rebuild the house of the Lord – a vision that is contained in the promise of a Prophet and Leader who will bring peace to a people who are torn apart and brought low by war and violence.  

A deep question in my mind as I begin Advent is twofold:

How do we as disciples seek to be rebuilt?  

How do we want to rebuild a shared community?

I come to these questions in the wake of a contentious Presidential election and also for the season we are in a Presbytery in our transition into God’s preferred future.  A key question of faith for us as leaders must continually be: what does it mean to rebuild on the personal and the communal level?

It is not coincidental to me that these word of peace from Isaiah are among the first we will hear as we begin our New Year in faith, the First Sunday of Advent!  

As we build new structures in our Presbytery, they have taken many forms over the last year:

  • Adaptive leadership modules for congregational leaders and teams
  • Planning for our new structure and ministry plan
  • The training of leaders in mediation skills, anti-racism and evangelism
  • Setting up our new communications structure in the Presbytery
  • Attaching to the resource-rich environment we are blessed to have through local, ecumenical and denominational partners
  • New ways of resourcing congregations in transition and with questions around their buildings
  • Deeper listening to one-another

One commentator on this passage in Isaiah observes that this passage is all about the dream of the future which in some ways is mysterious.  Wouldn’t you and I just love to have it all pinned down!  

This is the liminal space we occupy in not just our individual lives but as a gathered Presbytery community.  Much work has been done to build the future, and there are some places where we can “hang our hats.”  Other areas of our journey remain in the dream and mystery phase as we see where our context will take us as we move forward.  Most of all those dreams and visions of the future are where we take steps to join God in the justice and peace this holy season of Advent points to in the birth of the Christ Child.  

However, the building blocks are all present: The Word of God, the deep commitment of leaders and the accompaniment of those around us.  The work of building the future in the Church today is all about putting in place as faithful-as-possible building blocks and structures, empowering healthy leadership which is attached to the Word of God and trusting the Spirit to take us where it will.  This was true in the time that Isaiah spoke into and it is true for us today.  And these are the life-giving promises from God as we begin our new year in faith on this first Sunday in Advent.  

Blessings to you as you begin your new year in faith this Advent Season!

About Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

Shannan grew up between the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia and have also lived at various points in Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and upstate New York. Internationally, I have lived in Scotland, Greece and Colombia. My family is transnational, my husband is an immigrant and we divide our time between the United States and Colombia. You can learn more about Shannan at: https://srvoconsulting.com

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.