This Sunday, December 3, marks the beginning of the four week Advent season, the time of year when Christians prepare for the coming of our Lord. Starting this Sunday, the Church remembers the coming of the Messiah in a flesh-and-blood human, born in a manger in Bethlehem. And, at the same time, we wait for his second coming, his second appearing, when Christ truly reigns over all creation and the Kingdom of God has come in all its eternal glory.
Each Tuesday during Advent, I’ll post here the liturgy we’re using at the GCR Church that coming Sunday. Please feel free to use these readings and passages during your own time in Word and Prayer during this season or at your own church as you light the candles that symbolize our waiting and watching and working for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
This first liturgy is for the lighting of the candle that represents “Hope.”
When God’s people were in the days of exile and uncertainty, his chosen prophet cried out from Isaiah 64:
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
~ Isaiah 64:1-4
In the middle of our own encounters with uncertainty and upheaval, and our own longing for deliverance, our Lord Jesus calls to us from Mark 13:
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come… Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!'”
Congregation: We wait as people surprised again and again by our God who shakes us out of our complacency and wakes us up to the gracious work of his Kingdom all around us.
We light this candle as a sign of our all-surpassing hope. May we stay awake to God’s activity in the world as we wait in expectation that even now God is with us, working to restore us to fullness of life with him and with one another.