Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)
Chapter 64O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence- Verse 2as 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! Verse 3When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. Verse 4From 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. Verse 5You 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.
Verse 6We 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. Verse 7There 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. Verse 8Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Verse 9Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
This week is wedged between an end and a new beginning. Yesterday, many marked the return of Christ the King complete with a heavenly throne and angels and eternal punishment. Oh, my! Next Sunday, our Advent anticipation begins complete with a babe in a manger and shepherds and angels. Oh my! And? Ready or not, this week a roller-coaster ride begins as our readings mirror today’s world, with climate chaos, hateful divisions, and epi- or pan-demics. Oh my!
But a ride like this didn’t begin yesterday. Consider Isaiah’s encapsulation of those “end times” so many centuries ago: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, to make your name known to your adversaries!” Yes! Preach it, Isaiah! “But you were angry, and we sinned!” Wait. What? “We have all become like one who is unclean. We all fade like a leaf.” Isaiah, are you suggesting somehow, some way, some of “this” is MY fault? Hmm…?
Gracious God, even as I catch my breath after echoing Isaiah’s plea for your cosmic intervention; mired in guilt, in repentance and in your Holy Name I raise my hand to you for your deliverance. Amen.