Advent 2017 - Week One
Isaiah 64:1-9
      Psalm 80:1-7,17-19
        1 Corinthians 1:3-9
        Mark 13:24-37

It feels like we’re in a wasteland, doesn’t it? All around the world. Fear haunts us. All kinds of fears.

No one seems to know where we are or how where to go from here. All signs are blank like the one in this picture.


Even those loudly and proudly professing otherwise. Few of us are really persuaded by them.

And what’s even harder to bear is that we know in our bones, at least a lot of us do, that we have brought a good but of this on ourselves.

The church is neck deep in all this too. We’re as befuddled, fearful, lost, and near despair as is the rest of the country.

But we do have a word. Not our word. Not at all. God’s word. And every year God graciously gives us a chance to start over. With different words but similar themes God calls us afresh to walk with Jesus to the cross and then, in the Spirit, to walk with him into and throughout the world.

We stand on the threshold of that journey again.

The prophet Isaiah limns our situation. We long for God to rip open the heavens and come doing marvelous works as he has done before. Yet we have been false with God and he has hidden his face from us. Yet God is our Father. We plead with him not to disown us forever and come to our aid. Sounds a lot like our crisis, doesn’t it?

The Psalmist echoes the plight of the people as sinners who stand under the hard discipline of the YHWH, the Shepherd (=King), the one “enthroned on the cherubim” (v.1). the effect of the people’s perfidy is that they have become “the scorn of our neighbors” (v.6). Sounds right familiar, huh? The psalmist cries for God’s face to shine upon them for the salvation. But the new thing here is his plea for God to “let your hand be upon the one at your right hand, the one whom you have made strong for yourself” (v.17). With this one and in him the people will find their salvation. And so will we! And the drama builds.

St. Paul zeros in on this figure the psalmist introduces. He is Messiah Jesus (1 Cor.1:4). In particular Paul extols the gifts Messiah Jesus brings to his people – “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (v.7) and his power protecting them to the end (v.8). He fills out the profile of this one God prepared at his right for this work.

Finally, we hear from Messiah Jesus himself. His emphasis here is on watchfulness (vv.34-37). Lest the master of the house return and find his doorkeepers unprepared to welcome him home, indeed asleep, the disciples have to stay awake. And so do we. We must stay close to him now at every step on our journey with him or we will doze off and find ourselves . . . well, in the situation we now live in! Already somnolent, these first week of Advent readings are a bracing wake-up call for us today.

And that how we’ll make Advent great again!

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