The First Sunday of Advent: December 3

Isaiah 64:1-9
Devotional by Chris Currie
Art: "Markan Apocalypse" by Leon Hinson

‘O that you would tear open the heavens and come down...’

Advent and the coming of Christ remind us that our problem is not that God is far away, distant, remote, detached, uninvolved in the affairs of our lives and the life of the world, but that God is near. That is what Advent promises. God’s nearness. Life is less complicated when God is far away, but when God tears open the heavens and comes among us in Christ, our lives get disrupted and rearranged and caught up in ways of service and witness and mission we never really intended or imagined for ourselves. Advent means coming, but Advent also means disruption. The world is about to turn, we will sing this Advent, and Christ is not just about making our Christmas perfect, but making it messy, complicated, and giving us things to care about we never really thought were our problem too, giving us people in our lives with whom we find we are tethered, giving us a mission in this world that may create more challenges for us rather than alleviating them all. As the Iona liturgy reminds us: ‘with a gentle touch, with an angry word, with a clear conscience, with burning love, Christ is coming to make all things new.’

Prayer: Tear open the heavens and come down, once again, Lord Jesus. Fill our lives with the messy grace of your way of life that fills our lives with hope, generosity, concern for others, and care for the life of the world. Amen.

Monday, December 4

Luke 1:46-55
Devotional by Sarah Chancellor-Watson

I first heard and sang the song “Canticle of the Turning” during my Young Adult Volunteer orientation in the summer of 2009. During those few days where we would be introduced to the values of the YAV program – intentional Christian community, simple living, solidarity and partnership, it became a theme song of sorts for us about embark on our “year of service for a lifetime of change.” As a young person fresh out of college I was ready for an adventure; I was ready for a change, as scary and intimidating as it was, from the comfortable and sheltered life that I had led up until then. Singing these words “for the world be about to turn…” encapsulated much of my feelings of standing on an important precipice in my life, ready to leap into the unknown and having the faith that I would be caught and find my footing in this new world.
The words of this advent hymn are a paraphrase of the passage in Luke known to many as “The Magnificat.” It is Mary’s song of joy and praise as she likewise stands on a precipice of great change. Not only is she undertaking the immense responsibility of parenthood as she transitions from maiden to mother (recall for yourself or ask any parent what it felt like in those final weeks and days before the arrival of a child – the fear, the trepidation, the excitement and the joy of knowing that soon life will never the same); but her words also reflect the seismic shift in the world’s order God was enacting through this child she was carrying. Part of what makes The Magnificat so beautiful is that Mary’s trust and faith in God are evident here – she knows who holds her in this transition and change and she is not afraid.

Prayer: Holy God, as we enter into the season of Advent remind us of your goodness and faithfulness. Even in the midst of change, you are Lord. Help us to not be afraid, but to trust you all the more as you are turning the world around. Amen.

More devotionals to be posted soon.