Advent 1: Isaiah 64:1-9

We are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

If I were writing for seminary students, I would have started this blog a week ago.  In that environment, I’d be writing for people who were preparing to preach:  looking at the Scripture passages for the Sunday ahead.

But I hope that some non-seminarians, and non-preachers, are reading.  If you’re not preparing the sermon or the worship service, then you will think about it after the service is over.

After worship, snippets of hymns cruise through our ears, and bits and piece of prayer and sermon and Scripture rattle around in our minds.  Some Sundays we manage to grab a morsel of something rich and powerful that feeds us throughout the week.  Other Sundays the luster seems to vanish as soon as we leave the building, and we are left to face the week feeling unprepared… or even disappointed.

That’s where Isaiah begins his painful love song.  For him and the people, it’s over.  The relationship with God was a mixture of good and bad, but the worst part is that it feels like it’s in the past.   He’s left with a failed relationship, and nothing but tatters to hold onto.

Isaiah actually holds both God and people to account on this.  He writes, “because you (God) hid yourself we transgressed” (v. 5) and that no human “attempts to take hold of you” (v. 7).  In Isaiah’s mind, things fell apart because no one bothered to take care of the relationship.  People ought to be holding on to God for dear life, in Isaiah’s vision.  But they didn’t, and God got out of town.  Isaiah begs God to start paying attention and participating in the relationship again.

Really, this is a bold move on Isaiah’s part.  How dare he accuse God of not being caring, active, and loving?  Yet I think Isaiah has touched on something raw and hungry in the human soul.  We want — we need — vibrant, flourishing relationships.  Sometimes we don’t put the effort we should into our relationships, and sometimes we retaliate when we feel hurt by giving others the silent treatment.   Yet we can’t live without those relationships.  Isaiah, our lonely “ex”, remembers what it was like to hold on to God, and he wants God back.

So Isaiah closes with offering a deal of sorts.  Let’s try again.  Let’s go back to the unformed clay, and make something new.

Can we make something new at work or home or school this week?  Do we care enough to try?

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