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Advent 2017: Prepare the Way of the Lord!

 

                 I love Advent! This season of waiting, longing and preparing brings depth and power to our lives and to our celebration of Christmas. The challenge, of course, is to create space in our full lives to prepare ourselves spiritually for the celebration to come. This year our Advent worship opportunities invite us to live fully between the first and second comings of Christ in two specific ways: lament and repent. (They even rhyme!)

 

The Psalms: Lament

The Psalms have been the prayer book of the people of God for millennia. They speak to the full range of human experience, and invite those who pray them to experience God’s presence and transformation in their personal lives, in their worshiping communities, and in the entire creation. The Psalms are not a random collection of liturgical pieces. Current biblical scholarship has concluded that when the Psalms were gathered into their present shape as a collection of 5 books, they were carefully structured to respond to the reality of the tremendous losses of the Exile. When all promises and expressions of life are lost, what remains is the faith that God is our home. The Psalms of lament play an important role in living out this ultimate faith commitment. These Psalms give us the words to grieve adequately and to come honestly before God with the deepest questions of our existence. They also express the faith that in that encounter, God is with us.

This season some of the most powerful lament Psalms will give us the language to prepare spiritually by seeking God in the most painful places of our lives. Consider the lectionary for Advent:

December 3 Psalm 80 Stir up your might and come to save us.

How long will you be angry with your people?

Why have you broken down these walls?

December 10 Psalm 85 Restore us again, O God of our salvation.

Will you be angry with us forever?

December 24 Psalm 89 How long, O Lord? Remember how short my time is.

Lord, where is your steadfast love?

These are our questions! We cry out for God to come to us!

 

The Gospel of Mark: Repent

Mark answers the honest questions of lament with the powerful affirmation that God is with us, especially in the painful places of death and resurrection. The awesome God who became human in Jesus changes everything! He is on the loose, alive and unable to be confined by death. His living presence calls us to life that cannot be taken from us. He calls us to turn back to God, to change our minds, and to live the fruit of repentance. The spiritual journey of Advent goes deeply through the landscape of lament and repentance.

 

Advent 2017: Lament and Repent

May God be with you personally, with us as a community, and with the entire creation in our Advent journey. Consider the powerful resources available to us: a daily lectionary, weekly worship, Confirmation Christmas worship (December 6), the Sunday School Christmas program (December 10), Advent evening prayer (December 14), and a congregational hymn sing (December 17). Prepare the way of the Lord!

 

Peace,  Pastor Dave

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