11.25.2008

First Sunday of Advent

...Into the unknown...

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by many of us as a blur. It is a season of lists and deadlines and expectations and waiting. But what do we expect? For what are we waiting on pins and needles? Do we really know?

A Christ child - but what is that? What does it mean to us, really, today, to expect God with us - our own Emmanuel?

Are we looking to be liberated from oppressors as Israel was? Who are our oppressors--are they literal or figurative? Political? Social? And, if so, to what are we hoping to be liberated?

...into the unknown...

Isaiah 64: 1- 9

What we know today as the "book" of Isaiah was believed to actually be a prophecy written in three parts, by different authors at three different points in Israel's troubled history. This selection is from the third set of writings, after the return to Judah from the Babylonian exile. The community has returned, after bitter trial, and recognized that God is present and able. The author offers up a confession...we know what this God is capable of, and we remember this God as our Father - please do not be angry. We know what your presence meant in ages past, both good and bad. You are the potter and we, the clay - we are the work of your hand. God, this is your creation, is it not?

...into the unknown...

Psalm 80: 1 - 7; 17 - 19
"Give us life, and we will call on your name." This is a petition for delivery. It is full of the desperate promises of a society sorely afraid - afraid of where they had been and not really sure of what was next.

...into the unknown...

1 Corinthians 1: 3 - 9
This greeting from Paul's first letter to the church of Corinth is full of hope and addressed to a waiting community - a community who knows of Christ's death and resurrection, but anxiously awaiting his return as they understood the promises of generations. Waiting. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of His Son.

...into the unknown...

Mark 13: 24 - 37
This reading from the Gospel of Mark reflects Jesus' teaching even as the plot to kill him is taking shape. His words are reminiscent of the greatest Hebrew prophets and reflect dark images of dark time. There is mystery, and imagine what it must have felt like, not quite understanding this man who taught with such wisdom and had gathered such a committed following and gave hope for the least and the lost. They are tossed into the unknown, and must
have wondered what was meant, "But about that day or hour no one knows....Keep awake."

...into the unknown...

Like generation upon generation over thousands of years we enter this season of watching and waiting. We may think we know for what we are waiting. But really, can we know? God with us? What does that mean today?

And so we wait.

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