The First Sunday of Advent
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 80, an urgent call to a God from whom the psalmist has turned away.
How do we get to the point that we are turned away from God? And how do we correct that? Well, that’s what Advent is all about, and our psalm today gives us some hints about a remedy.
Sometimes with God, as with any relationship, we simply get disconnected. It’s as if the the phone lines go down and we don’t bother to fix them.
We pray less – well, you know, because we’re busy, right?
We lose the “holy intention” in our lives to always be with God and for God, even in our choices and actions.
Advent helps us remember that such “holy intention” can only be charged by our connection to God. Advent turns us to call that Power into our lives.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
Other times, we are confused about our soul’s intimate relationship with God. We haven’t forgotten it. Actually, we work very hard to be what we think God wants. We, like a satisfied Pharisee, think our “holiness” is the fruit of our own efforts. But our life in God withers, like a once beautiful plant that languishes, overwatered and scorched. For all our efforts, our souls feel empty.
Advent helps us realize that it is God who enlivens the vine and gives the blossom, not us. Advent turns us to a humble, hopeful waiting for grace as God desires to give it.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Our psalm recognizes that, at times, we withdraw from God. Perhaps we tire of working at our spiritual life. Or we weary when our works of mercy go unappreciated. Or we fail to find God’s Presence in a prayer that seems unanswered.
Advent helps us see that God is never the one who withdraws from the work of love. We do.
Advent turns us to new life by the simple calling of the Name that never fails to answer.
May your help be with the creature of your right hand,
with the beloved whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Poetry: Tagore – THE INFINITY OF YOUR LOVE
Stand before my eyes, and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame. Stand among Your stars, and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship. The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside. Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation. Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; fill her cup of solitude, and let me turn my heart toward the infinity of Your love.
Music: Turn Around, Look at Me