3 December 2023 1st Sunday in Advent
For you are our father,
though Abraham does not know us
and Israel does not acknowledge us;
you, O Lord, are our father;
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Why, O Lord, do you make us stray from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we do not fear you?
Turn back for the sake of your servants,
for the sake of the tribes that are your heritage.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 63:16-17, 64:1,3-8 NRSV
As we enter Advent and commence a new liturgical year, we hear again from the prophet Isaiah. The words we hear form part of a long prayer of lament. We might wonder what it is that the people of Israel have to lament for. Their time in exile has ended, they are released from slavery and able to return to Jerusalem. But the return was painful – they were not welcomed by their neighbours, their beloved temple lay in ruins, they did not any more feel the closeness of God that they used to have. What they seem to have forgotten at this point is that much of their misery comes from following their own ways rather than God’s. They seem to blame God for their plight but at the same time they are painfully aware of their shortcomings. Isaiah offers hope in the midst of their pain. As the people gradually realise what they have brought on themselves, they are able to recognise their utter dependence on God
- Why did God seem to be distant from his “Chosen People”?
- Have you ever felt that God was distant or missing from your life – did anything help to restore your sense of God’s presence?
This has been a year when our world has had much to lament – spend some time in reflecting on the sorrows you have experienced and offer these into God’s keeping.