Sermon Date: November 28, 2021
By Pastor Elaine Boone
1st Sunday of Advent
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you O God”
It’s the first Sunday of Advent. We have switched to blue for our hangings and my vestments. We have lit the 1st candle in our wreath and now we start our time of preparation.
We have 4 weeks to prepare for the indwelling of God. Sometimes it does not feel like enough time. There are so many demands on our time in these 4 weeks. The lists of things to do gets longer, the lines in stores gets longer while the days get shorter.
Advent is about the coming days. It is about the tension between where we are and what is to come. It is a time of preparation and of waiting. And generally we are not very good at the waiting part!
We get anxious for what is to come - we have expectations of what is to come. And these expectations can be both good and bad!
The mood or tone of Advent is one of longing. Advent is about hope for today.
And that is why our psalm today is so perfect for the beginning of Advent.
There was a time when the psalms did not do much for me. I liked other parts of scripture more. But then I decided to do a daily devotion of reading through the psalms and I have come to a deeper appreciation of them. I have come to appreciate the poetry that they are.
The psalms have been used in worship for a very very long time - there must be a reason why we still recite a psalm each Sunday! The psalms capture common human reactions to life events. And the psalms invite us to honestly confront our own experiences as they are reflected there. And perhaps this is a good starting place for the beginning of Advent. A time to look back, to take stock and then to look forward with expectation and hope.
There are 2 categories of Psalms; poems of praise and poems of lament. And most of the psalms fall into the category of lament.
Today’s psalm is classified as a lament because of the petitions to God and the desire for help.
A lament is a deep expression of individual or communal grief in the presence of and directed to God.
We might consider using the word lament more in our lives - the emotions of lament are certainly with us. But its a word out of favour - out of use. But the expression of lament can be very helpful.
Walter Bruggemann says that psalms invite us into the wholeness that comes in embraced brokenness. And this is a place where many of us find ourselves in this season. So give vent to your lament. Take your petitions to God. Come in expectation and in hope for what is to come. Let the psalms express your pain & your hurt & then let them express your trust and your hope.
To you O Lord I lift up my soul.
My God it put my trust in you.
All your paths, O Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.
In our 4 weeks of Advent we will wait and watch and wonder. And we will hope.
Our psalm today is a psalm of hope, a confident hope. We reflect on how our lives have been challenged and blessed. Hope is stuck between things going wrong, life off track, tasks undone and the expectation of things going right & life moving forward. But it’s there. The psalmist found hope. It is part of being human that we are often between failure and fulfillment. We mix concerns and expectation (or many expectations!) and reality and dreams.
Words of hope carry meaning. It is no accident that the 1st Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of HOPE. The first candle lit is the one of hope and it is the candle that accompanies us for the next few weeks. The candle of hope is the constant in our wreath as it is lit and relit each Sunday.
Our psalm this morning directs us to a practice we might call “soul lifting” - the practice of placing ourselves, our families, friends and the world into the very hands of God.
That is a practice of hope.
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