“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to[b] our sins. Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.” Isaiah 64:1 – 9
Hope is typically the theme for this first week in Advent. This week that begins the time of waiting. In this very unique year that will go down in history, hope is something we are in desperate need. Hope that the vaccines that are being touted as promising will indeed be exactly as hoped. Hope that we will be able to get our economy back on track and those who have been furloughed or laid-off will be called back to work or find new jobs. Hope that our politicians will realize just how divided our nation really is and reach across that great divide to build bridges as they listen to the fears and concerns of those who think differently. Hope that our children will not fall too far behind in their studies. Hope that we can rebuild all our relationships that have been put on hold for almost a year. Hope that we will find a new normal as we take time to grieve all we have lost in a year that has been unlike any year we have ever experienced.
I hope that we also recognize that our hope should not be grounded in any of the above. Hope that will truly make a difference in our lives is found when we place our hope in our Father in Heaven who long ago sent his son Jesus to earth offering hope beyond measure if we would only listen to him and follow his teachings.
As we ponder where our hope is this season, I leave you with the words to the Christmas carol: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”
O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light…the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above…while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth…and praises sing to God the King and peace to men on earth.
How silently, how silently the wonderous gift is given! So, God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven. No ear may hear His coming…but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.
O holy child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray…cast out our sin and enter in be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell…O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel.