Monday, Week One of Advent by Kat Duck
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--
as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil--
to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
“There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.” This may have been written during post-exilic times (after 587 BCE), but someone could have shouted it (perhaps in more colloquial language) from a 21st century rooftop in New York City last week. And, the present-day person doing the shouting would be somewhat alone in his or her lament because most people don’t even think about God anymore. Fewer and fewer people, nowadays, even though they say they believe in God, are part of a worshiping community.
Starbucks has become the altar at which we worship on Sunday morning and that’s only after we’ve slept in until after 10 a.m. We live in a world where scientific study seems to have explained the meaning of life down to the tiniest quark and God has become a historical figure that no longer appears to exist beyond the mythical stories that creakingly slip out of the Bible on Christmas and Easter. In some ways it’s comforting to know that people have always rebelled against God and that we’re not alone in our defection; but, in other ways, it’s troubling.
Even though so many people are no longer actively engaged in worshiping communities, there are still—as the saying goes—no atheists in foxholes. When the chips are down, a lot of people still eagerly call on God and expect an answer. How can we move from Crisis Christians to Daily Devotees? The answer, I think, begins with gratitude for the life we’ve been given and the opportunities to serve one another, since, when we do something for someone else, we have served and loved God.