The following is a reflection on Isaiah 64:1-9, the Hebrew Bible Lesson appointed for November 27th, 2011, the First Sunday of Advent, Year B according to the New Revised Common Lectionary. On this site there is also
• a reflection on the Gospel Lesson for the same day, and
• a version of the Prayers of the People.
One of the cornerstones of my understanding of theology in general, and the human condition in particular, is that left to our own devices, we don’t mind approaching the Divine on our own terms, but we sure don’t want the Divine getting too close.
Like a cagey, skittish cat, we approach God…a little. Slowly. With constant suspicion. And at the slightest movement we scurry in the opposite direction.
I think it’s why many people go to church—and “church shop” for that church in the first place. We want to be close to God. Or, at the very least we want to want to be close to God. We like to think of ourselves as people who are “spiritual,” and we certainly want others to think we’re so. But, usually we seek a place that is safe and comfortable for us to do that.
Or, do something that halfway resembles that anyway.
And, the coming of Messiah into the world is what shatters that whole convention. Both the Incarnation and the Parousia—both comings of Christ which we remember intently each Advent—proclaim boldly that God comes to us.
And God comes with surprise. And wonder. And humility.
But, our general stance of wary-curiosity is vanquished by Isaiah 64. “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!”
Imagine praying that in church—without it being read monotone from a church bulletin. Imagine in the land of mainline Christianity someone crying out for the Lord to come—as he did in ages past with great might! Imagine praying that like we meant it—as if at any moment the sky might be rent, and the trump would resound.
And then, declare that we are merely clay in the hands of the potter.
Please, O Lord, come down and mold us.
This Advent thing, four weeks out of every year, is meant to awaken us from our monotone slumber. Our cat-like skittishness. Our mere curiosity.
It’s meant to kindle in us the insatiable desire for God to come.
And maybe, just maybe, if we can shut out the din of the checkout lines and rosy-cheeked Santas…we might just get there…perhaps even by the day of his coming.