Advent 2020: The Prophet’s Candle: HOPE
A Prayer of Hope
We begin our Advent season in the prophets. The prophets point to an all encompassing reality that is bigger than our own. It is the job of the prophets to confront the status quo of whatever moment we are in and point us towards a righteous posture before the One True God.
It isn’t ever comfortable to be talked to by one of the Old Testament prophets. Through them the language of judgement and God’s disappointment is regularly shared. Ouch!
We tend to want things to be comfortable and so we resist. We like softer pastoral pictures of God comforting his wayward sheep. Those images are also accurate, but we must allow the prophetic literature to shake us out of complacency. Why? Because when we are startled out of our all-to-easy status quo stupor, true hope is birthed.
Walter Bruggemen writes:
“Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.”—The Prophetic Imagination, 1978
Throughout history, people have tended to make God in their own image. Our culture does this as well—we make God into a slightly serious, whimsical, folksy character who might have something profound to say, but more likely he’s interested in you feeling good or laughing at his irony.
This week, as we begin Advent, let’s allow a deeper hope to emerge in us through the honest prayer of the Prophet Isaiah.
Read Isaiah 64:1-9 again: our Advent passage for the week:
1 Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!Isaiah 64:1–9 (NLT):
How the mountains would quake in your presence!
2 As fire causes wood to burn
and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble.
Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
3 When you came down long ago,
you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
And oh, how the mountains quaked!
4 For since the world began,
no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him!
5 You welcome those who gladly do good,
who follow godly ways.
But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly.
We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved?
6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
7 Yet no one calls on your name
or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
and turned us over to our sins.
8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, and you are the potter.
We all are formed by your hand.
9 Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
Please don’t remember our sins forever.
Look at us, we pray,
and see that we are all your people.
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