Advent devotional Day 1 [Isaiah 64:1-9]: Wait for it!
Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year. I’m sure you’ve noticed. On October 1 I went to Macy’s [I know the date because I happened to tweet it in disbelief] to look at the home department for bedsheets. As I neared the top of the escalator, my senses were shocked as I was greeted by the Holiday Lane set up in all its glory. I hadn’t even bought my Halloween candy, I hadn’t even begun to think about Thanksgiving and here I was being forced to look at ornaments and Christmas decor. It was much too much.
Our culture is hurrying us to experience Christmas as soon as the leaves start falling and we’ve kind of bought into it. You know what I’m talking about: Christmas songs at Starbucks before Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails. At home, we dust off the boxes of Christmas stuff and decide if we want to get a fresh tree or an artificial one this year. We start thinking about holiday parties and what to wear and who to invite to Christmas brunch.
But wait. Don’t go there just yet.
Today marks the first day of Advent–a time of expectant waiting and preparation for Christ’s coming. The lectionary text for today from Isaiah 64:1-9 is a bit frenzied as well. Isaiah is done waiting. In fact, the prophet is begging God to “tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake before you.” The Israelites are feeling a bit abandoned. They don’t feel the presence of God in tangible ways as they did earlier in their exile. Has God taken an extended holiday? Has God hidden from them? Where is God, they wonder?
We’ve felt this way too at times, haven’t we? We wonder where God is when wars continue to be fought, when homes are being foreclosed, when the growing number of homeless have no protection against the elements, when our own personal battles and pleas for help seemingly go unanswered. We cry out, Do something, God!
But there is a turn in the tone of Isaiah in verse 8 as the prophet acknowledges that, “LORD , you are our father. We are the clay, and you are our potter. All of us are the work of your hand.” Like lumps of clay, we ask God to make us into the people God wants us to be. We are the works of God’s hands seeking justice and mercy for the least and the lost among us. God is not done creating.
We all know where Advent leads us. A baby being born in a dirty manger doesn’t seem like the God who breaks through the heavens to come down. Or does it? As we journey through Advent, let’s allow ourselves to be surprised by the God who continues to do awesome deeds that we did not expect.
For it is indeed worth the wait.
Prayer: God who breaks through our busy, complacent, and ordinary lives, help us to prepare room to receive you this Christmas. Surprise us in new ways, oh God as we, your people continue to hope in expectant anticipation of your coming. God with us. Immanuel. Amen.