Advent 1 Reflections

Isaiah 63:16b-64:9

You, LORD, are our father;
your reputation since long ago
is that of our redeemer.
Why do you lead us astray, LORD,
from your ways?
Why do you harden our heart
so we don’t fear you?
Return for the sake of your servants
the tribes that are your heritage!
Why did the wicked
bring down your holy place?
Why did our enemies
trample your sanctuary?
For too long we have been
like those you don’t rule,
like those not known by your name.

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.

When you accomplished wonders
beyond all our expectations;
when you came down,
mountains quaked before you.
From ancient times,
no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any god but you
who acts on behalf of
those who wait for him!
You look after
those who gladly do right;
they will praise you for your ways.
But you were angry when we sinned;
you hid yourself
when we did wrong.
We have all become like the unclean;
all our righteous deeds
are like a menstrual rag.
All of us wither like a leaf;
our sins, like the wind, carry us away.
No one calls on your name;
no one bothers to hold on to you,
for you have hidden yourself from us,
and have handed us over to our sin.

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.
Don’t rage so fiercely, LORD;
don’t hold our sins against us forever,
but gaze now on your people,
all of us:

Mark 13:24-37

“In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark,and the moon won’t give its light.  The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken.  Then they will see the Human One coming in the clouds with great power and splendor.  Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.

A lesson from the fig tree

“Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near.  In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door.  I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.

“But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows.  Watch out!  Stay alert!  You don’t know when the time is coming.  It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert.  Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak.  Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Today is the First Sunday of Advent as well as being the first day of the Church year.  How fitting that the church year begins with the season of Advent.  It puts everything into perspective for the year.  We begin the church year with hope and anticipation.

But we don’t always share in the hope of the season.  For whatever reason, we cannot see God working in our lives.  For me, this past church year has been one of struggle, doubt and lament.  The church I was working at eliminated my position and I am currently working at a job I’m less than excited about, making less than I was…significantly less.  And so, like the Israelites in exile, I lament, “Why do you lead us astray, LORD, from your ways?”

I have heard a lot during through this past year; that my lament is a symptom of my larger ‘disbelief’ in God’s power…never mind that I never described my doubt in my laments as being disbelief.  My laments, like that of the Israelites, is one of having difficulty in seeing God in the ordinary.  Take a look and see how the Israelits want God to manifest himself: “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.”  I, like the Israelits, want God to manifest himself in the extraordinary and lament when he doesn’t.

As we begin this season of Advent, let us rededicated ourselves to hope and anticipation and look for God in the ordinary.

Prayer of the Day
Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection waken us to the threantening dangers of our sins, and keep us blameless until the coming of your new day, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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