November 30, 2008

Isaiah 64:1-9Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 On this first Sunday of Advent, our scripture texts reflect both the struggle and longing of the people of God, and their undying hope. The prophet Isaiah observed the people around him, the marketplace, the leaders, and the culture, and he cried out in frustration, despair, and unrelenting hope for God to do something about it. His people had finally returned from exile in Babylon, but Jerusalem was no longer the place they had once known. The people had changed. Things had changed. They wondered whether God was still with them or not.“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” Isaiah lamented to God. He speaks almost as if God has abandoned him and his people. He speaks as if God is some far-off, distant being that has not been paying attention for some time. And perhaps that is exactly how he is feeling about God. In Ralph Milton’s Story Bible version of this passage from Isaiah, he imagines that the prophet has just returned from a visit to the marketplace. His young friend, Rebekah, comes for a visit, and notices that he is looking very sad. She could see tears in his eyes, so she took his hand. “What’s wrong, Old Isaiah?” she asked.“Sometimes…” Old Isaiah closed his eyes. “Sometimes I wonder how God puts up with us.”“Did something bad happen at the market this morning?” Rebekah asked.“The bad thing was that nothing important happened,” Old Isaiah said.“I don’t understand.” Rebekah sat … Read more »

November 27, 2011

Isaiah 64:1-9 Mark 13:24-37 If your life is perfect, then you may not be able to relate to the scripture texts this morning for the first Sunday in Advent. If you are happy and healthy and well, and you live with your beautiful family in a lovely neighbourhood, enjoying your spacious home and your comfortable income… If you’re getting ready for an absolutely wonderful holiday season of socializing and gift-giving, laughter and good times, without a care in the world… then perhaps this morning’s readings will seem a little out of place or off the wall. But, you know as well as I that the congregation here on Sunday mornings is not made up of super-duper people with perfect lives. That’s not the reason for the smiles and laughter that we share as we gather in this place. In fact, you’re not the only one here today who’s come despite the struggles, who’s come carrying heavy burdens, who’s come with pain, or disappointment, or stress, or grief beyond compare. For one, it’s the fatigue that comes from constant caregiving and the many thankless jobs still needing to be done. For another, it’s the worry and stress caused by a difficult work situation or a boss who just doesn’t seem to understand. Someone else is finding it hard to get up in the morning because of a chronic illness, while another is aching with loneliness through the night because of a loved one who is no longer present. A young person … Read more »

December 3, 2017

Isaiah 64:1-9 Psalm 80 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 Mark 13:24-37 “While We Wait” December can be such a busy month, can’t it? Between concerts and Christmas parties, shopping and preparing for family gatherings, many of us are run off our feet during this season. I appreciate the fact that church meetings tend to slow down in December, but with planning for special services and high expectations at this time of year, pastors too can miss the call to slow down, wait, and reflect on the birth of Christ into our world. This morning’s Scripture readings, however, call all of us to a time of waiting and watching. For what must we wait and watch? Well, the texts remind us of the time when God’s people were waiting for a Messiah – for a Saviour to come and bring them freedom and peace. The prophet Isaiah expressed the deep longing – almost desperation – of his people when he cried out to God: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” And the psalmist likewise prayed for God’s salvation, asking God to hear the people’s prayers, and let his face shine on them, and restore them to fullness of life and safety. Of course, when we move into the New Testament, we know that those hopes and prayers have been fulfilled in the coming of Christ, in the birth of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. And yet, our readings today from the Gospel of Mark and Paul’s letter to … Read more »