Praying Towards Sunday
In Isaiah 57:14-19, Isaiah is speaking to the people of Jerusalem, and calling the people back to God, telling the people of God’s salvation through the coming of the Messiah.
According to the NIV of the “Life Application Study Bible”, “prophets stood with the priests as God’s special representatives. The prophet’s role was to speak for God, confronting the people and their leaders with God’s commands and promises.” Talk about putting your service to God ahead of yourself. This is a serious responsibility, being a prophet.
Regardless of their time in history, prophets endure many unpleasant “themes” in their lives: ridicule, conflict, isolation. By the very nature of the prophet’s work, confronting people and leaders with God’s word, people don’t like what prophets have to say. Prophets constantly remind us of our disobedience, our sin, and our hubris. That’s why prophets always possess a trove of much-needed personality traits: strength, courage, fearlessness, persistence. It’s not easy delivering news that nobody wants to hear or realities that nobody wants to face.
But sometimes, like the passages from Isaiah today, the prophet’s message is uplifting! Isaiah tells us that God is with the contrite and he will revive our spirit. Isaiah tells us that, despite our disregard for God’s word, God will guide us and restore comfort to us. And this will happen through the promise of future blessings through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. So, Isaiah is telling us to prepare our hearts, “prepare the way” for Jesus.
This begs the question: What are we doing to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus’ birth this Advent season? I am at the front of the line of people who experience the entire Advent season as one long, tiring month filled with activities that really don’t have much, if anything, to do with preparing my heart for Jesus. Instead, I spend time decorating the house, buying, wrapping and shipping presents, writing Christmas cards, attending parties. But sadly, none of these activities involve me thinking, praying and experiencing God’s redemptive love through his son. None of these activities allow me to spend time with God, rejoicing him and praising him for his “inestimable love”.
The publication of this reflection occurs right in the middle of Advent. So, as we read this, we still have time to change this season of Advent for ourselves. We still have time to replace the distractions of the commercial and secular “season” of Christmas, with spirit-filled time with God. Maybe we walk the labyrinth at the Community of Divine love; Maybe we attend Centering Prayer on a Tuesday with Sharon Crandall; Maybe we read a passage from the “Day by Day” booklet available in the church office; Maybe we rejoice in the abundance God has given us by volunteering at a homeless shelter or visiting a shut-in.
The options are limitless. The key is to choose something. And then as Nike says, “just do it”.
And by choosing an option, and doing it, this Advent season we are choosing to remember that God comforts us and restores us, despite our disobedience and our contrite hearts. We are living in Christ’s redemptive love and rejoicing in Jesus’ coming again.