As I’ve studied our Biblical texts (Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 11:2-6) for this Sunday I was reminded of the song “Signs.” “Signs”, was originally written and recorded by the Five Man Electrical Band in 1971.  Obviously, that’s not when I first heard it.  I first heard it when the heavy metal band Tesla covered it in 1990.  The original chorus was, “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery breakin’ my mind, do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”  Perhaps even more so than in 1971 or in 1990, signs are everywhere.  They block out the scenery.  They interrupt our thoughts.  And the question remains whether we can read the signs? Not just any old sign, but the signs of God.

I was reminded of “Signs” because in our Old Testament passage, King Ahaz, is promised that the Lord himself will give him a sign of hope.  “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”  In our New Testament passage, John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard what Jesus was doing and he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one who is to come.  John the Baptist was looking for a sign of hope that Jesus was the promised Messiah.   Jesus told John’s disciples, “tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”  All of these things were signs that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  But John and others were having a hard time reading them because they did not live up to their expectations. 

As I ponder these Biblical stories I wonder if we also are challenged when it comes to reading the God-signs in our lives.  Some of us might even doubt the existence of such signs.  Others might be looking for God signs in the miraculous.  But God signs can just as well be ordinary events as extraordinary ones.  From an Old Testament perspective, a “sign” can be anything that reveals or communicates God’s word, will or nature.  And so, something as ordinary and as marvelous as the birth of a child can be a sign, a message from God.

Are we able to read the signs God sends us?  Do we understand the signs God has sent in history?  Being able to read and understand the God signs in the past and present is central to living hopeful lives, to becoming signposts for God and others. 

Pastor Dave