Isaiah 64:1-4

November 29, 2020

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— 2as 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! 3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. 4From 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.

Today begins Advent. During Advent, my congregation and I are participating in a devotional practice that is simple and intentional.

“Advent” means coming or arrival. The word has double significance, as in Advent we celebrate Christ’s coming into the world and we look with longing for his coming again. The season of Advent begins with an emphasis on the final things (eschatology). We watch and pray with expectant hope for the establishment of God’s justice and the return of the Prince of Peace. Advent marks a rending of the heavens, and opening of the veil between the holy and the human. (Summary from our Book of Common Worship.)

The prophet writing the words we read in Isaiah 64 knew this longing. “Oh, that you would tear open the heavens and come down…” The prophet writes from a time long before Christ’s first advent, before God dwelling so tangibly and perfectly and purposefully with humanity was revealed in Christ. He longed for a God that was close enough to breathe the same air and inhabit the same earth.

From our perspective well on the other side of that first arrival, we may know a similar longing, one borne of the grief, sorrow, and disillusionment of living, so that Isaiah’s words continue to ring all around us. “Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down!” Come, Lord Jesus, open the heavens, enter our earth, and bend all that is wrong and unjust in our world toward your holy justice. Open our hearts and dwell within them, filling them with your light and love.

If you are starting an Advent journey today, may it be blessed.