Rip Open the Heavens

The First Sunday of Advent

Advent is the beginning of a new church year in which we look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and find peace, hope, love, and joy in the kingdom of God come to earth at the birth of the Christ Child. You can participate by reading the Lectionary for each Sunday and spending time in reflection and prayer. (See the Resource Links) This blog will help you focus on the readings with prayers of response and reflection on the images of God. Allow yourself sacred time and space.

A reading from Isaiah 64

Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend,
    make the mountains shudder at your presence—

From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
    who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
    those who remember you in your ways.

Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

Prayer of Response. Oh God, we implore you to open the heavens and do awesome things for us. We wait for you somewhat impatiently while we continue on in lamenting, serving, and wondering. Even in the depths of our unclean hearts we know you are our Father Creator. Take hold of what is yours and make something beautiful.

Reflect. Do you find the image of the Potter and the Clay comforting or difficult? Take a moment to meditate on being held and shaped in the hands of the artist who designed you. Feel the warmth of the stretching. Take a deep breath and release what you are holding tight. Yield to the movement of the Spirit. Close your eyes and sit with the image of God as the one who shapes you into his image.

A Reading from Psalm 80

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
  stir up your might
    and come to save us!

 Restore us, O God;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved! O Lord God of hosts,
    how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?

 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
    the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
 Then we shall not turn back from you;
    give us life, and we will call upon your name!

Restore us, O God of hosts;
    let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Prayer of Response. Lord are you listening? You Lord are my shepherd, I want for nothing. I long for the favor of your face and the attention of your ear to my prayers. Restore my soul.

Reflect. What feelings does the image of God as Shepherd bring to mind? Again take a moment to visualize yourself in the hands of God as the Good Shepherd this time. Listen to his voice calling for you. Does he hear your cry when you caught in the thicket? Imagine the Shepherd picking you up and carrying you on strong shoulders. Feel the oil rubbed into your wounded-ness. Close your eyes and sit with the image of God as the one who cares for you soul and body.

A Reading from Mark 13

 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,  and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

Prayer of Response. Father rip open the sky, shake up the universe. Send your Son in power to bring peace, joy, salvation, justice, and Life. Come Lord Jesus.

Final Reflection. Does Mark’s vision of the coming of Jesus in the clouds give you hope or bring up concerns? What is your prayer as you wait for Jesus to come this Advent Season? Spend a final moment imagining Jesus sending his angels to gather us together in the kingdom to come, his will to be done. Sit with the image of Jesus ripping open the heavens.

Advent Resources: Please add your own Advent Resources in the comments.

Photo by Massimiliano Morosinotto on Unsplash

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