Sunday marked the beginning of the new Christian year and the first season of the year is Advent. During Advent, we take time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, advent simple means “coming.” This season of the year is beautiful in the church; folks come in with rosy cheeks from the cool air (although that can mean 65 degrees in GA!), the Advent candles on the wreath make for a beautiful scene, the purple adorning the sanctuary is royal in expectation of the coming and when the Christmas decorations arrive, we can really feel the gravity of this season. Another favorite part of this season for me (especially since it is my first time as a pastor during the season) is watching people take part in the lighting of the Advent candles, reading of scripture and prayers for the season.
This Sunday at Bethany, I used the lectionary texts from Isaiah 64:1-9 and Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19. These texts were bold examples of how hopeful we are supposed to be during this season. Both passages of scripture implore from God that he do something to intervene in the midst of their troubles. This season of Advent, we too are hopeful that God will intervene in our lives.
The passage from Psalm 80 was especially powerful to me, especially through the repetition of the words, “Restore, Shine and Save.” Three separate times in this passage, the author writes some variation of, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”
These words in Hebrew all have significant ties to other Bible narratives and through the interweaving of the stories from previous interventions from God and this passage, we not only can have hope, but we ought to have hope. This passage using restore, shine and save is reminding us that God is in control and always has been. No matter where we find ourselves this Advent season, he is in charge and has been faithful in the past; we have no reason to doubt his faithfulness towards us no.
The image from Isaiah that I found most comforting and most hope-giving comes from verse 8 which reads,
But now, Lord, you are our father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. All of us are the work of your hand.
What a comforting and hopeful thought to know the three ideas from that verse:
- God is our father. What an awe inspiring and hope giving thought. Wherever we are this season, we have a father who was, is and will always be!
- He is our potter. We are constantly being molded by a master craftsman. He gently, patiently and always molds us into the likeness of him.
- We are the work of his hand. This is not only hope-giving for us personally, but we can be hopeful that every day those around us too are created by his hands and share in the likeness of the same God.
During this season of Advent, take time to prepare yourself for Christmas, the coming of our King.