“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity for ever. Now consider, we are all your people.” (Isaiah 64:1-9 )
Advent is a season of waiting and anticipating. The underlying premise of Advent is that we are not sure what we are waiting for. While we know intellectually we are waiting for Christmas, spiritually we know we need but not sure what we are in need of. Intellectually we know we need Christ, and by extension, God. But spiritually as we look within our selves, we come to see what are needs are. And we hope that these needs can be filled and addressed.
Year B (which is the year of the Common Revised Lectionary which we move into for Advent) is the year when scripture passages call back the faithful for renewal of purpose and devotion. There is a Year A which marks the first year of the cycle, so we are actually starting mid-way through the cycle. But as the first year that “A Simple Desire” is commenting on the scripture passages of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) I think it is a good symbolic beginning. Recommitting ourselves to considering and studying scripture is always a good spiritual practice.
All of you, my beloved readers, have seen and marked many Advent seasons (although they may have not called it such). But journeying through Advent, week by week with these scripture passages, you and I may discover spiritual ideas. Or perhaps re-discover then. It is my hope that you join me in the simple task each week of reading and pondering on each of the four scriptures passages found in the RCL. Consider it “a simple desire” to take up (or continue) a spiritual discipline. As we move through the weeks I will talk more about the types of scripture passages that make up the weekly lectionary. And once we come to the end of the Advent season, I will talk more about my plans for the new year.
Most of the time the first reading is from the Old Testament. It sets forth what has happened in the past to God’s people. By looking back at the past we might better understand the present and be more ready for the future.
We start with Isaiah 64, verses 1 to 9. It is an invitation to God to come down amongst the Lord’s people. It also acknowledges that the people of God have not always acted and lived according to God’s laws and precepts. So it is also an invitation for us, God’s people, to come before God with humbleness and contrition. The writer of Isaiah admits where God’s people have gone wrong, and why it seems like God has been absent. But God has always been there; it is God’s people who have closed their eyes and looked away. But now God’s people look to God and look for God in their daily lives.
May you beloved look for God as you start to look towards Advent. Selah!