Day 1 – Sunday, December 3, 2023

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
Isaiah 64:1–9

In the vexed election cycle of 2016 there was a Twitter handle that began touting itself, satirically, as a candidate for the 2016 election. It still exists, and it’s called @votegiantmeteor. The original idea was that the two dominant parties and their candidates left something to be desired. Indeed, a giant meteor squashing the earth was thought to be preferable to the then-current state of political discourse.

One of the memorable posts from this handle reads as follows: “My opponents want to keep taxes complicated. I think it’s time for a flat tax. It’s time to flatten everything.” The somewhat morbid impulse to chuckle at this post also makes me resonate with the first verse of the reading selected for today (Isaiah 64:1). Out of confidence in the Lord’s promise to return and dissatisfaction with the current state of our world, my wife and I sometimes look at each other out of frustration and sigh “Come, Lord Jesus!” “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, / that the mountains might quake at your presence,” I can say with Isaiah here.

Come he will, and we should not expect his second coming to be like his first. Yet, Isaiah here also implicitly acknowledges his coming among us every day. For he is the potter and we are the clay. God in Christ is working within us and before us and all around us. Without him we can do nothing. In the famous words of St. Patrick, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left.” I do long for the Kingdom, but that should not prevent me from being aware of (and cultivating) the Kingdom within and among us.

Dr. Jack Mulder is a professor of philosophy at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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