An Advent Prayer
Here we are again! The Advent Season - can you believe it!? It seems like we were just doing this, and here we are again.
I don’t know if it’s a sign of age, or something else... but I do know that, when I was a child it seemed like Advent/Christmas would never get here - and it always seemed so hard to wait. And it can still be hard to wait...
And that’s a major point of Advent... waiting. Not a passive, “do nothing” - sit on your hands kind of waiting... but active, anticipatory waiting, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Savior, and redeemer. We prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas! As we prepare our world for the coming Kingdom, when all things are finally made new.
But Advent’s much more than that: it’s also a call to remember the great promises of God. His promises to send a deliverer/redeemer/Savior to save and set the people of God free.
It’s also a time to repent… To prepare the way for the Lord, in our hearts, and our lives, and our churches... Time for prayer, and reflection… a time to focus as we anticipate God’s action.
Of course, our scripture reading for today is fitting. It’s a fitting lesson for Advent for sure!
It’s actually a prayer. The prophet Isaiah is voicing a prayer before the Lord. An Advent kind of prayer. A prayer calling out to God to come down and deliver his people and to make his glory known.
But it’s also a prayer of remembrance… a prayer, remembering that God has acted in the past, and can be trusted to act again in the future. So Isaiah‘s prayer is ultimately a ACT of trust, a prayer that patiently waits on God to act.
Which makes this prayer incredibly relevant in our hearing, does it not? It’s a tough time in many ways to be a Christian… to be a follower of Christ.
I promise you everything that’s open today has a better attendance than Church. The NFL games that are going to be played today will be packed… The Mall will be overflowing with people. They’ll be 10 times more people in Walmart today than in the pews.
In many ways the Church today is downcast. We’re discouraged. Not only has Covid damaged the church… but the church has damaged the church. Church people have turned on one another! You’re either too conservative... or you’re too liberal. And so we tend to base our faith on our politics… instead of basing our politics on our faith. And we’ve damaged the church as a result.
All across our country, lack of interest and apathy rule the day. The minds of so many are far from God and the things of God... and many who do claim to follow Christ have such a disdain for others that they’ve lost the foundation of what being a “Christ follower” is all about. Or they’re out espousing that the world is “flat” so nobody takes them serious.
Good is called evil, evil called good. It feels like God‘s word is playing itself out in our presence. So we who know, and trust in the Gospel of Christ, we know and profess that God is still in control - that he is totally and unapologetically sovereign.
But at the same time we feel the urgency of the moment. We know how truly important it is to share the Good News with the world today.
But the truth is... in our disappointment, and discouragement, we sometimes don’t know how. We don’t know how to communicate the Truth to a world that has closed it’s ears.
So we cry out... imploring God to act on our behalf. Intervene. With Isaiah, we pray, “Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” God if you would just make your glory known! It make our job so much easier.
Of course, God has proven himself faithful in the past… So much so, that you and I know we can trust him to empower us today… as we cling to his faithful promises… Promises to ground, keep and deliver his people.
You and I stand here, at the dawn of another Advent season… with the greatest of all promises in our hearts and on our lips. We know that our Deliverer has come. We know that God sent Christ, to be our Savior. We remember one of the greatest stories ever told… How Jesus rode into Jerusalem, on a donkey… surrounded by hosannas… making his way to die for you, and for me. God was acting… God was responding… God was moving to literally deliver us.
And, of course, the great sacrifice of Jesus, calls us to repent. To be honest with God, about who we are, and what we are. As we seek his face, and we repent from the damage that we’ve caused… to HIM, to one another, and to his church. And he hears our cries! He saves us! Over and over and over again… we cry out… and God acts... God delivers. Our salvation is secure, because of Christ, birth, death, and resurrection. And that assurance brings us hope.
Of course, we can’t help but wonder how long? How long shall we wait? How long must we wait for God to once and for all make all things new?
He calls us to wait, and trust, as we keep on working for the kingdom... putting our future in his hands. For when you and I find ourselves in his hands, there’s no safer place to be.
No matter how difficult this life becomes… No matter how hard it is to be the church in the world today… We carry on the work of Christ… Not losing heart… Not giving in to fear, or discouragement, or dissatisfaction… But remembering the great power of our God. And calling on him to act yet again… Knowing he’s a God, who acts, who does… who will continue to deliver his people.