Yesterday we heard Isaiah 64 which is the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures on the First Sunday of Advent. The prophet lifts up a lament which is a prayer to God for help in time of need. The petitioner offers reasons why God should intervene and remedy a particular situation. At the end of the day, lament is an argument with God. The Bible has a particular tradition that asserts arguing with God as a faithful response to God’s promises. This tradition believes that it may be possible to change God’s mind and reverse God’s plans as Moses did on Mt. Sinai after the Golden Calf. This tradition also implies that the one making the lament is not guaranteed the desired result. But the faithful petitioner is guaranteed a hearing, a listening. We believe that Yahweh is the One who pays special attention to the cries of the oppressed.
The prophet cries out in Isaiah 64 pleading that God should come not in some quiet or hidden way, but with decisive force as God did before when God caused mountains to quake and fire to blaze forth.
“O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at thy presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make thy name known to thy adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at thy presence!”
In crying out the prophet affirms the creative power of our gift-giving God:
“Yet, O Lord, thou art our Father;
we are the clay, and thou art our potter;
we are all the work of thy hand.
Be not exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and remember not iniquity for ever.
Behold, consider, we are all thy people.”
Yesterday we lit the First Candle of Advent which is the candle of hope. We affirmed in worship that our faithful laments to God can take different forms and various shapes but these laments are fundamentally acts of hope. A story of hope is the witness of a young athlete named Kayla Montgomery. Kayla is one of the top runners clinching the North Carolina State Title in the 3,200 meter running race. Her time of 10 minutes 43 seconds ranks her 21st in the country. And yet (“yet” is a key word when it comes to discerning lament!”) she suffers from multiple sclerosis. Kayla recognized after a period of anger and despair upon the initial diagnosis of the disease in 9th grade that she could either wallow in pity or get up and stand up using all of her gifts. She decided to run and run hard. She turned to the track coach who has become like a “Father” and asked that he pay special attention to her pushing her to her upmost. The honesty in their relationship paved the way for faithfulness. So too, our commitment to honesty is the building block in our relationships and with God. This Advent….be committed to be disciplined in your spiritual growth and be mindful of your service to Jesus Christ our Lord. Watch this amazing video found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/21/kayla-montgomery-runner-teen-with-ms_n_6200754.html and in your own way….identify your own lament asking for God to intervene.
Grace and Peace,