O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence– 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. 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 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. [NRSA: Isaiah 64:1-9]
We begin Advent as a spiritual Journey
Our starting point is our current condition. Looking around and within ourselves. Things are not perfect. We are not perfect, but we have hope. Our hope is in Christ!
• We have been blinded by enormous data,
• we have been swallowed up by conformity,
• we are already investing beyond our control,
• we have the demons that test, tease, and torment us.
• We feel grip of grief. We know the repetition of confinement.
• We think what is evil; we do what is evil.
• We welcome evil into our hearts, minds, and souls.
• We watch what is sinful round the world,
• we grow a custom to brokenness and violence in the news,
• we are desensitized in the entertainment we consume. It’s ok, it’s not real, it has no effect on me.
• And yet it does. It all make evil more normal and digestible
How do we break through?
We come at Advent and recognize we are but a lump of clay before God. But we are not just any lump of clay. We are the lump of clay that God loves, molds, and patiently reworks. God has unfinished business with each of us, as with all of us.
Advent begins a spiritual journey that starts our knowing or remembering that we are the clay and not the Potter.
Here is our prayer for this first week: . 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.
• Knowing Christ in our hearts and out hearts in Gods is our destination,
• we need to acknowledge we have a way to go.
• But we have been given, The Way. Out, the Way through, and the Way home
Thankfully, while God has every right to be furious with us, God loves us more than we can imagine.
The journey is one of yielding to potters hand, vision, and will for us.
Packed for the journey
Every trip, even in unknown adventures needs resources. Has in the tank, snacks for nourishment, and. Map if we lose out way. The counterparts for our spiritual journey as the same. We find direction, energy, and nourishment from our Christian fellowship, worship, study, and service.
These are the tools, activities, and necessities for us to gather, trust and use.
Our first steps are
1. to confess,
2. repent, and
3. remember we ARE plagued with the struggle of sin and weariness.
4. And we are taking first steps back to the heart of worship, heart of faith, to the heart of God.
Step one: Remember “I am not the potter. I am the clay.”
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.
Prayers of confession: (portions from various UMBoW prayers)
Almighty and merciful God,
we know that when we offend another, we offend you.
[We choose other paths, we move away from you.]
We are aware that we have often allowed the shadow of hate
to cloud our souls, hiding the light from our [weary and disinterested] eyes.
We have said unpleasant and hurtful things to our brothers and sisters
when they failed to live up to our expectations.
[We have said things that are pleasant to ourselves and others, but in so doing we have said and done hurtful things to you]
Grant that we might find that spark of love that ever burns within us,
[Fan the flame of your Spirit]
[We long for the grace we know in Jesus Christ]
the love that you have shown to us even when we failed you.
Fan the embers of that love until it roars again
in flames of love, peace, and reconciliation.
Forgive us our sin and help us to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Lead us into new life through your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for the sins of all. Amen.
[Based on (MICHAEL J. O’DONNELL, U.S.A., 20TH CENT.) but with additions]