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Monday, November 27, 2017

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If we compare the opening words of the first readings for the First Sunday of Advent across the three-years of the Revised Common Lectionary, there are none as searing as these: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down...!" In fact, these words could serve as a refrain to a litany of the world's struggles in our day. As we consider the ravages of earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, mass shootings--as well as the hostility between races and religions--we become painfully aware of our helplessness to mend the fabric of this world by our own efforts and strength. In response, these ancient words can become the cry of our hearts, "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down...!"
First words are important, and with these first words we confess that we, like ancient Israel, have failed in faithfulness to God. We cannot by our strength save ourselves and our world; so come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.

Great and gracious God, ours is a world in need of your saving love. Come, we pray, with healing, hope and peace. Amen.

Rachel Mithelman, '83
St Johns Lutheran Church,Des Moines, Iowa

Isaiah 64:1-9 (NRSV)

1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--
2 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!
3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.