Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tear The Heavens Apart: Why We Need Advent

This week's scriptures are Isaiah 64:1-9 and Psalms 80:1-7, 17-19.

This week's passages are cries from the deepest part of the human heart. Look at what happens when we 'forget' we're reading scripture (which often makes us miss things cause we wrap our 'religious stuff' around it) and listen to the words like our next door neighbor was telling them to us:

'God has made sorrow all I have to eat and I drink the tears of this overwhelming grief. My neighbors watch me being crushed and my enemies make fun of me as much as they want to. Why doesn't God tear the heavens apart to come down. In the past, when I wasn't looking for God to do anything, God came and the mountains shuddered and it felt like the world would burst into flames. No other God has ever been seen taking up for those who waited for God, but doesn't seem that God will respond, no matter what I do. Everything I cherish is ruined. How long God before you stop beating on me?'

This is a paraphrase of the combined scriptures; but it cuts close to the truth of their meaning. Take a look at them now in your Bible, starting with the Psalm and you'll see what I mean.

This is why you and I need an Advent. We need a place where we can cry out. We need to know that God will listen. I will sometimes ask people that I counsel with, either as a pastor or a therapist (when the person is using their faith in the process of therapy) whether they have prayed about the "aweful secret" or the "horrible problem" that they've just told me about. Often the answer is a kind of suprised look and then, "well no, I haven't" though we somehow had to protect God from the bad stuff in our life; or that God is so angry at us for being or doing something that God wouldn't listen to our struggle. Consequently, we can feel alone and deserted in our trouble.

But that's not what scriptures says, and it's not the Gospel.

We NEED an Advent. We need to rediscover and reclaim a God who listens and cares and answers. We need a place and time where we can risk grabbing on to these promises about who and what God is and holding on for dear life.

This Tuesday I sat in court and watched a man I know being lead away in handcuffs. His victim was also in court; as were friends and family of both. Most of the people in this courtroom...including the man going to jail.....were people of faith! Were christians struggling with what all this means in their lives, and their futures, and their trust, and their faith in God. The pain in the court room was palpable. Think of them for a moment and re-read the paraphrase above.

Where can they go to cry out? Where do victims go to cry out the anguish of long term impact of victimization? Where do offenders go to cry out for healing as well? Where do the families of offenders cry out, to worship, to have community?

This is the issue that I'm closest to. If it doesn't speak to you, pick one that does. Where is the place you know, in your own life or close to you, where a cry needs to go up?


I hope you'll join us Sunday. Let's come together and cry out. God will listen. God will come.



Anonymous said...

I think that sometimes we focus on the strength of faith and forget that vulnerability is part of faith too. You make a good point about how we need to share our vulnerabilities with God and be open to whatever that may lead to.

Looking forward to hearing the sermon tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Uploaded 1-5-08. Sorry for the delay! (final papers and all that...)