Monday, November 23, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected for Advent

In an effort to set aside the Advent season as a time for reflection and preparation for the arrival of "little 8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus" I'm committing to blogging every day from now until December 25th. My posts will be focused on an Advent Devotional Guide one of our adult Sunday school classes is studying called Expecting the Unexpected by Blair Gilmer Meeks (For all you church professional types, Blair Meeks has some great resources for Advent, Lent, and general liturgical use).

There's a hymn assigned for each week, which I'll be posting on Mondays, including a link to the Cyber Hymnal, which will play a scaled down midi version of the hymn for you. There's a focus Psalm for each week as well. Then, there are daily Bible readings and reflections. I'll strive to throw out a few of the reflection questions and share my thoughts. As always, I welcome comments, but please leave a name if you aren't already a blogger user.

So, without further explanation, here goes.

Week 1 Expecting Christ's New Creation
Psalm 25:1-10
Hymn: Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God, come down!

Day 1 Bible readings: Isaiah 2:1-5 & Isaiah 11:1-10

List the images of peace that caught your attention in the two readings from Isaiah:
As for Isaiah 2, I was struck by the emphasis on learning. People flock from all around to learn God's ways that they may walk in God's paths. And this isn't some heady, intellectual, ethereal lesson. This is one of those classes where you get your hands dirty. This is the art room in workshop rotation, or maybe the "real life application" room (Ruth's Real World at Harpeth). But instead of toilet paper tubes, cereal boxes, and old scraps of fabric, the call goes out for these folks to bring spears, swords, and other weapons of war. Instead of creating Christmas tree ornaments with popsicle sticks, God, the ultimate teacher, will teach the peoples of the world to make plowshares out of those swords and pruning hooks out of those spears. Weapons of war will be used to create the tools of planting and harvest. Learning the ways of the Lord does NOT include war. "Neither shall they learn war any more." Not only will there be peace, but people will quit learning how to do the war thing "just in case."

I want to go to that Sunday school class, but I wonder what I would bring for the art project. I don't have any swords, spears, guns, knives (well, besides the ones I use to eat). What do I own that contributes to war? What do I have that needs to be transformed for planting and harvest? What do I own that contributes to the destruction of God's beautiful creation? What would you bring to that Sunday school class?

Isaiah 11: That is a big bunch of animals all living together on that mountain, and, just as in Where the Wild Things Are, a little child shall lead them. Even the animals have learned the ways of the Lord, the ways of living peaceably with all. And in the midst of all these animals is the one with a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. People look at that mountain and wonder just what the heck is going on. Do our churches look like that holy mountain? Do people look at us and wonder just what the heck is going on? For the most part, I kind of doubt it.