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December 3, 2017

Day One

Hope

Isaiah 64:1-9

“…All of us are the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8c

Advent isn’t easy. I think most pastors struggle to live into the season of Advent when the entire culture has been focused on Christmas since August when Costco put out their holiday decorations. But, Advent is important. Unlike the “get it now” consumer culture of the secular “Holiday Season,” Advent is that time of delay that calls us to recognize we still live in the gap between the promise and the fulfillment of the gift of the Christ child. But, we do so in hope.

If you read the entire passage of Isaiah 64:1-9, you go on a roller coaster ride of promise and problems. The first sentence, “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!” speaks to the human heart’s recognition of our need for God in a world that seems so far from God’s intended purpose for us. The text, like so many, goes on to speak of past experience of God’s power and wonders, and the present plight of a people who must confess that most of their suffering they have brought on themselves by sinful and selfish choices. I wonder if they had any sense about the causes of climate change in 540 BCE? Strange how the struggles of so long ago seem so true today. So where is the hope?

Perhaps in part, hope is found in the author’s phrase, “All of us are the work of your hand” — a phrase that may be read to be more inclusive today than perhaps originally intended. Hope is always found in truth. That is why confession is always a part of forgiveness and redemption. If we truly believe that “all” of us are the work of a loving creator’s hand — a hand that is still creating and recreating — then there is hope. No matter how selfish and sinful we have been, we can change, we can rebuild, we can reform, we can recommit, and we can be renewed. Not just some of us. All of us.

I think it is a sign of hope that Advent, which is the first season and the beginning of the Christian year, arrives in the month that is the end of a secular year. Might it say to us there is a better way to mark time than checking off what has ended or been accomplished? Advent calls us to enter into a new perspective toward all persons and all things. We are called to see them as “the work” of God’s hand. When we do, they become sacred. And, when we begin to see all things as sacred, there is hope for us all.

Prayer: Lord, grant me the wisdom to see your hand in all, that I might have hope for all. Amen.