Preparing for Worship: Shall We Be Saved? (Advent I)

Preparing for Worship: Shall We Be Saved? (Advent I)

John Haralson   •   December 1, 2017

Mountain + Flame, Jenny & Ryan James

Liturgical Calendar A:
Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Trinity, Ordinary Time

Liturgical Calendar B:
New Year, Valentine's, Spring Break, 'Merica Day, Black Friday, CyberMonday, Christmas Both have the power to shape the contours of our lives.

John Dyer

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
Annie Dillard

Dear Friends,

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, which marks the beginning of the church calendar. For those of you unfamiliar with the church calendar, here is a four-minute video which does a good job explaining it. Advent takes place in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. 

Advent is derived from the Latin word advenire which means “to arrive”. During the Season of Advent, we focus on the ways that God comes to us. The Lord has come to us (at the birth of Christ), continues to come to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and will come to us again bodily at the end of this age. Advent is a time to reflect upon all of the ways—past, present, and future— in which the Lord enters into our lives and our world.

In this way, observing Advent each year roots us in a very important reality:

          Everything hinges on the presence of God.

This week, we will be turning our attention to Isaiah 64:1-9. This text is a wonderful Advent prayer, as it asks for the Lord to return. The prayer begins with this heart-felt plea:

          Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down!

The key word in that sentence is “Oh!”. It is the cry of the heart that desperately needs God’s presence. 

At the same time, however, Isaiah is very straightforward about the sins of God’s people. Even our righteous deeds, Isaiah says, are like filthy rags. Even the good things that we do are tainted and spoiled by sin. 

The question Isaiah dares to ask is this:

          How can God visit a sinful people like us and bless us?

That really is one of the core questions of Advent.

This week: Isaiah 64:1-9, Shall We Be Saved?

During Advent and Christmastide, we will be taking our Scripture texts each week from the Revised Common Lectionary. The Lectionary is a Bible reading plan used by Christians and churches all over the world. It generally follows the church calendar and goes through the majority of Scripture over the course of 3 years.

Liturgy is here.

I hope to worship with you.

John