Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tear open the heavens...

I've been cramming what is usually a week of preparation for Advent services into one day, for various reasons, the chief one being Advent seems to have sneaked up on me! I'm now thinking about the Scriptures we're reading this coming Sunday, November 27, and what to say about them. I cobbled together a Call to Worship for our Sunday liturgy, based on the lectionary passages for the First Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 64:1-9 and Mark 13:24-37.
O that God would rip open the heavens and come down, and make the mountains shudder.
But isn’t this season about tinsel decorations and Santa?
The sun will become dark, the moon won’t give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the planets will be shaken.
But isn’t this season about lights twinkling in the streets?
Then you will see the Christ coming in the clouds, with great power and splendour.
That sounds more like it – the hope we’re looking for, the promise of something better to come. We can’t wait!
But now we must wait. Keep watch! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, Lord Jesus. We wait for this hope to arrive, we long for Jesus to return, we look for the signs of God coming among us. Let us wait and worship together.

In writing, I picked up on Isaiah 64:1-2: "If only you would tear open the heavens and come down! Mountains would quake before you like fire igniting brushwood or making water boil" (Common English Bible) - but went with the language used by The Message translation, "rip open" and "shudder" - and Mark 13:24-26: "In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won't give its light. The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then they will see the Human One coming in the clouds with great power and splendour"(Common English Bible). I kept much of the CEB wording for the Mark passage. I was trying to incorporate the eschatology in the readings for Advent 1, the waiting that is so countercultural for us in Advent when Christmas seems to start the day after Hallowe'en, and the consumerist trappings of the secular Christmas.

A version of this Call to Worship has now been posted by LiturgyLink, so it's available for other time-pressed pastors this coming Sunday!

No comments: