BROAD BROOK CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
NOVEMBER 30, 2014
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Waiting and Hoping
We are gathered here at Broad Brook Congregational Church to worship, praise, and thank you for your mighty deeds. But, I have some questions and concerns with our lectionary scriptures this morning. Oh pardon me; perhaps I need to back up a tad. I am Rev. Carol, Pastor of this church. Here with me today is some of your faithful flock. It is on their behalf that I am writing this letter.
Today as you well know is New Years Day for your Church universal. We begin a new lectionary year on this first Sunday of Advent. And boy what a doozey of a lectionary reading we have heard. I know that Advent is about waiting and preparing our hearts, once again, to receive the re-birth of a baby born in humble surroundings—Jesus the light of the world—once again. Yet this prophet Isaiah sure spouts out a negative assessment of the Israelites.
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence…” Isaiah sounds as though he and the Israelites think you have abandoned them. ‘Where are you God? Why aren’t you here in the midst of us helping us out of this mess we are in?” At least that is what I hear him asking you with his speech. I don’t have a problem with that. Those are human questions that come from a place of deep despair. We are very much like the Israelites in questioning you God. It is O.K. to question right? We are all in different stages of our faith and sometimes we don’t understand your ways and that leads to questions. After all, the disciples were always asking Jesus questions.
I have to admit that I am perplexed over another thought that Isaiah expresses. Isaiah says, “But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.” This seems like the problem with the chicken or the egg—which came first. If you were angry because we sinned, I get that. Any parent gets upset when their child makes poor decisions and does something that goes against the rules. Now what about the second part of that sentence, “because you hid yourself we transgressed?” Did you really hide yourself from the Israelites in their distress? That just seems like a wrong-headed way of thinking. I am wondering if you were there all along only the Israelites were too busy trying to do it all themselves that they failed to see your presence among them. I think that happens to many of us in today’s world. We get so caught up trying to juggle our own schedules, work, and family and trying to do it all on our own that we forget to notice your daily presence and works. Therefore we tend to think you have abandoned us. Is that what happened to the Israelites?
You promised to send an Advocate to be with us always. I wonder about the victims of injustice, war, terrorism, racism, the homeless, the wounded warriors, the victims of gun violence, victims of abuse of power, and the differently abled. How do they understand this passage? How can they survive if they do not have a faith that believes you are with them in the midst of their suffering and that you will work for the good? When our lives are turned upside down—like the lives of the Israelites were—that is when we must believe that you right there with us. Remind us, O God, to be still and know that you are God. Open the eyes of our hearts that we might recognize your presence in our daily lives.
Over the last few days I have witnessed your presence, God, in some amazing ways. One instance involved a differently-abled couple that has suffered some major health concerns, lost their home, and struggled financially. They have been on the receiving end of help from BBCC. They recently got an unexpected refund check and they passed it on to me to be used to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for a family. We had already given our Thanksgiving basket out and I wondered how I would honor the couple’s desire. I stopped in my office to pick up a book I needed when the phone rang. It was a young mother desperately looking for help with food for her family of five for Thanksgiving. I went shopping for food with the money the couple had given me. When I explained to the cashier what I was doing she took $7.00 off the price of the turkey and with my shopper’s card I was able to purchase what the family needed. I delivered the food to her later that day. This young mother was so appreciative and she said to me, ”Can I give you a hug?” “Absolutely!” I responded. Blessings were given and received. God, your presence was evident that day. Thank you!
Thus, in this time of Advent waiting, help us, God, to see your light shining even in the midst of this broken world. Help us to see your face in our friends, family, neighbors, and especially in strangers like our young mother. That is the hope I want to pass on to everyone. Help all of your faithful flock to be still and know that you are God and you are with us even to the end of the age. Help us to be beacons of hope for you.
Guess that’s all I wanted to say to you, Holy One. Thanks for listening.
Waiting in the greatest of hope,
p.s. God I have a dilemma. There was a time when Advent was not celebrated in all churches. Then when it was introduced, it was thought that no Christmas Carols should be sung during that time of waiting and hoping. However, it seems to me that only singing these beautiful melodies on a single Sunday that honor the most precious gift we have been given, deprives us from offering up joyous sounds of praise to you. Therefore, I am offering a compromise. If it is O.K. with you, we will sing a song or two of Advent as well as one or two Christmas Carols through out the Season. Hoping you approve!