Isaiah 64: 1-9
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 forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
When I was first reading Isaiah’s words they sounded worlds away from me. I found I wasn’t able to hear them, and instead found myself wondering what was going on with the writer and those around him. Desperate words. Dramatic words. Despairing words. Lamenting words.
On the surface this season and this month aren’t thought of as being desperate, lamenting times. All around us these days many of us feel swallowed up in the glitz and the glitter. There’s hustling and bustling. There are lights in the windows and carols on the radio. And yet…and yet.
…and yet, and still these words come to us.
These December days gift us each year with an invitation to lean in again. These growing-darker days invite us to trust again that all that we see isn’t all that is holding us and holding onto us. Advent invites us back. Advents welcomes us to return to our grounded place, our centered place.
In these words we are first instructed to acknowledge our broken places, to examine the parts of our lives that separate us from who we have been created to be. Here in the midst of endless commercials for having more, here we are invited to strip away all excess. Here we are told to look deeply within ourselves and to seek the One who is the Source of peace.
Even in these words of lament, especially in these words of lament we find hope. Isaiah’s image of God’s role as potter and ours as the clay, speaks to this deeply interconnected relationship. We, all of us are in God’s hands, continuing to be shaped and formed for what is next.
Breath Prayer: “we are” “the work of your hands”
Holy Potter, shape us and return our prayers from lamenting to thanksgiving. Tear open your heavens and come down to us, so that we might see even as the darkness surrounds us. Forgive us, we pray when we lose our way and drift from you. Pardon us, graceful One, so that we may be transformed this day. Amen.
Love this pic of Susie and Sam's hands...
believes in beginnings and beginning again, in holding on and letting go, in God's presence as close as our next breath. Lesley works as a hospice Bereavement Coordinator in Atlanta. She is an ordained minister in the UCC and has just completed her second book, "Grief and the Psalms: Companioning the Moon in 29 Days" (to be released early in 2015).