Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Advent 1 - Isaiah

First Sunday in Advent
November 27, 2011
Isaiah 64.1-9

For you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are as a father to us;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are the work of your hand.
(Is 64.7-8)

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of a savior, we also mark the beginning of a new church year—our New Year. A time to reflect—what does it mean to be God’s people? Are we living the life we intend? The life God envisions for us?

The prophet Isaiah addresses these questions—left to our own will and whims, we screw it up every time, but God does not abandon us. God, like the ideal parent, continues to shape and mold us in God’s own image.

As you look at this picture of Israel’s security wall in Bethlehem, it is easy to see how nations screw up. In the name of greater security, Israel and the US have joined forces to create a barrier that makes everyday life impossible for the people of Bethlehem.

The wall here, with its guard tower dwarfing homes and businesses, was built right down the middle of Bethlehem’s busiest street, the street where tour buses used to enter Bethlehem, stopping at the shops, where pilgrims bought their olive wood and jewelry to remember their visit.

In October, this is what the street looked like—shops shuttered, the abandoned buildings falling down. The buses do not pass these shops anymore. (Although I’ve ridden with many persistent and skilled Palestinian drivers who probably could maneuver their buses through here if they needed to!)

Isaiah’s message is one of incredible hope for the people of Bethlehem—the Israeli security wall may be enclosing their city, shutting them off from the world and even from one another, but this is not God’s plan for us. God has not abandoned us.

And our country’s military response to every threat is not God’s plan for us either. We are the clay, and God can shape us for a different response—one that does not purchase our safety with the misery and despair of people halfway around the world.

God of new beginnings, we praise you for your unfailing love and steadfastness, even when we use our power to harm others. Mold us in your image—shape us into caretakers of your good creation and caregivers for your people. Amen.

No comments: