Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thoughts for the First Sunday of Advent

My church puts together an Advent devotional booklet each year, and I wrote the meditations for all of the Sundays this year. Here is today's:

Sunday, November 30th: First Sunday of Advent

If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!
Mountains would quake before you
like fire igniting brushwood or making water boil.
If you would make your name known to your enemies,
the nations would tremble in your presence.
Isaiah 64:1-2

Read Isaiah 64:1-9

For thousands of years, humans have longed to see God with our own eyes. All too often, we have done a great job of manufacturing a god or gods we could see...much to the detriment of our relationship with the God of the universe, the Creator of all things.

The prophets of Israel were like the rest of us in this, that they would really have liked to see God, it seems. Isaiah cried out to God, for God’s presence to be made known in visible and tangible ways, to the people of Israel. He longed for the people to heed his warning words from God, and he looked for God to make a big show of God’s presence, to let everyone know who was really in charge.

The Church has also looked for all kinds of signs of God’s showing up with us again, ever since Christ’s ascension. People have put lots of time and effort into trying to figure out when that would happen. No matter when it does happen, though, the Church has observed Advent as a time to prepare for Christ’s return. It’s a time not to calculate days and hours, but to be prepared for what Isaiah hoped for, to examine ourselves and let God be at work making us into people who look forward to the excitement of Christ’s return—not people who live in fear of when that happens. Advent is a time for us to seek God’s work in and through us, for as Isaiah said,
But now, Lord, you are our father.
    We are the clay, and you are our potter.
    All of us are the work of your hand.” (v.8)

As Advent begins, how will you look for God to change you this season? What will you do differently, to let that happen?

Prayer: God, our Potter, help us to look forward not only to the celebration of Christ’s birth, but also to Christ’s return, with hope and joy. Amen.