Lent & Advent Midweek Message

SEASON OF ADVENT 2023 – 12/3/2023 FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Carolyn Matthews

December 2, 2023

Come Quickly, O Lord

Allison Tanner

(Rev. Dr. Allison Tanner is Pastor for Public Witness, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA)

 

Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSVUE)

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
[a]as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down; the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.[b]
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name
or attempts to take hold of you,
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered[c] us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity forever.
Now consider, we are all your people.

 

 

Advent begins the four-week journey toward Christmas – when we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel – God with us. But Christmas is the culmination of the Advent journey that begins in a much more somber setting – one of longing and lament – one that acknowledges the hiddenness of God – and the need for God to come to us again. As Isaiah begins, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down…” Paraphrased: “We need you, O God. We long for you. We wait for you – wondering why you seem so far off.”

 

Advent begins with the heartbreaking reality of the brokenness of the world – and the brokenheartedness of those who long for the coming of the God of love and liberation so clearly manifest in the Exodus experience. If you find yourself brokenhearted these days: overwhelmed by the violence in the streets of Oakland as well as the violence overseas, distraught by the weeping of mothers and the killing of thousands of children, filled with angst for what’s to come as we enter another contentious election season, despondent by the lack of clear leadership on behalf of millions of Americans whose liberties are under attack or have never fully been realized, if you carry the weight of watching a loved one struggle without adequate resources or support, then I pray you will find some hope in the days to come. Hope that comes from bringing your longing and your lament before God.

 

Today we light the Advent candle of hope – a small, single flame that burns in the midst of heartbreaking realities. Rev. Patricia De Jong writes of Advent hope, “Hope is what is left when your worst fears have been realized and you are no longer optimistic about the future. Hope is what comes with a broken heart willing to be mended.” As Advent begins, I invite you to bring your heartbreak, your anguish, and your worst fears to God, as well as a willingness to have your broken heart be mended. It is against this backdrop that we journey toward the promise of God coming down from heaven, breaking into our despair, and being born anew in the midst of the suffering of the world. Come quickly, O Lord.