November 30, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 64:1-9
WAITING WITH PRAYER!
Rev. Kenneth Wieting

A New Church year has begun – yet things don’t seem so new.  The work schedules, the bills, the personal struggles, the times in which we live – they are old hat.  The warm sun has retreated, cold winds are recently new again, but that is really nothing to celebrate.  But Advent is!  Advent is how the Church begins things each year – standing between our Lord’s first coming and waiting for His second coming at the end of time.  As we wait, we live by faith, not by sight.  By sight – things often seem older and slower – changing and decaying.  It is only by faith that things are made ever new by the coming of Christ.

November 30, 2011
TEXT: Isaiah 64:1-9
WAITING WITH PRAYER!
Rev. Kenneth Wieting

A New Church year has begun – yet things don’t seem so new.  The work schedules, the bills, the personal struggles, the times in which we live – they are old hat.  The warm sun has retreated, cold winds are recently new again, but that is really nothing to celebrate.  But Advent is!  Advent is how the Church begins things each year – standing between our Lord’s first coming and waiting for His second coming at the end of time.  As we wait, we live by faith, not by sight.  By sight – things often seem older and slower – changing and decaying.  It is only by faith that things are made ever new by the coming of Christ.


The faithful who lived before us in the days of the prophet Isaiah also lived by faith as they waited for the Lord’s Messiah.  In Isaiah chapter 64 the prophet gives a prayer of great comfort expressing the longing of God’s people.  The setting was the disastrous years of Babylonian conquest and captivity.  The city of Jerusalem was laid waste.  The temple was destroyed.  Many who were not brutally slaughtered were hauled in chains to Babylon.  The prayer the Holy Spirit inspired in Isaiah 64 was voiced in those dark days.  But it is still the prayer of Christ’s Church in any dark days – when enemies hound her – when earthly hopes are stretched thin.


Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.  We need rescue as did Israel of old!  This plea believes that God does not will to remain at a distance, detached from our suffering.  This plea is a prayer of longing for God’s presence among us to rescue us.  Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.


Yet there are sobering effects to consider if that prayer is answered.  Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence.  The book of Hebrews rightly reveals “Our God is a consuming fire” (12:29).  This prayer acknowledges the same and yet asks God to burn like a wildfire exploding dry brush or turning boiling water into vapor.  We want the things that oppress us to go away like a mist and leave us in peace. 


Oh that God would rend the heavens and come down on terrorism and tyrannical governments and corrupt and wasteful ways and the proud and the privileged and the secular assault on Christianity and on and on…For mountains to quake literally means for the rocks to flow.  It pictures a rock turning to liquid (molten form) and flowing away.  It describes how the presence of God will change the rock-hard hearts of the ungodly.  Smugness and arrogance and rebellious behavior will melt into fear.  Such is the way of God’s burning law.  The petition is that God would save His people from their enemies in this world, but also that all nations, including ours would repent and call on the name of the Lord for forgiveness.
 
It is often said, “Be careful what you pray for.”  It is a dangerous thing to ask God to come down in judgment on the nations – for He will judge us too.  So the focus of Isaiah’s prayer turns from Israel’s enemies to the Church herself.  It recognizes the enemy within us.  As God’s people come into the Lord’s presence their sin becomes manifest and prayer becomes a confession of sin and plea for forgiveness.  So we pray with Isaiah…

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 for 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.


Israel’s prayer is our prayer!  “When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.  Oh that you would rend the heaven and come down.  The unexpected has happened.  That’s what makes Advent a new beginning!  The glory of the Lord ripped open the heavens in the presence of the shepherds as the Angels sang “Glory to God in the highest.”  The manner in which God came down was wonderfully unexpected in that He came down clothed in the flesh of a baby boy. 


In this season of Advent we wait the celebration of that miracle of the ages – the incarnation of Christ.  As we wait, we refrain from singin the angels song – the Gloria.  We live and wait and pray by faith, not by sight.  We hear what God’s people of old heard.  Their prayer of deliverance from God’s enemies and for forgiveness of sins is our prayer.  Despite all our righteousness being as filthy rags we pray with them – “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. 


Did God answer Isaiah’s prayer?  Yes!  Babylon was destroyed by her enemies.  Her great walls and palaces were put to flame. 

The Lord brought a remnant home to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.  But the full answer to this prayer took place many years later when blood and water flowed from the Eternal Rock (John 19:34; Is 26:4) – Jesus Christ!  The moment Jesus handed over the Spirit on the cross, the heavens were rent and the mountains quaked.  “The curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.  The tombs also were opened (Mt. 27:51-52).


Oh that the crucified and risen Christ would continue to come down doing awesome things that He now invites us to expect!  Rebirth from water and His Word!   Repentance from His Word at work in us!    Renewal from heavenly food under bread and wine!   Restraint of our sin and our self-seeking!  Rejoicing in His promise never to leave us or forsake us!  Oh, that He would rend the heavens and come again to take us home!  Even So, come quickly, Lord Jesus.  AMEN.


THE PRAYERS
Stir up Your power, O Lord and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  AMEN.

Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us.  Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and may be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with Your whole Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.


Almighty God, You have called your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself.  Grant that by Your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; Hear us for those from other nations at our doorstep and for those who have wandered from the faith once delivered to Your Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN. 


O God, give us times of refreshment and peace in the course of this busy life.  Grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds that we may be opened to the goodness of Your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble.  Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN. 


Merciful Lord, watch over those afflicted with sickness.  Relieve pain, guard from danger, and restore health according to Your gracious will.  Hear us especially for Irv and Helen and Fran and Linda and Krisi and Sandy and Marlowe and all we name in our hearts.  Hear us for those who request our prayers in other need especially Zane and his sons, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  AMEN. 


Almighty and most gracious God and Father, we implore You to turn the hearts of all who have forsaken the faith once deliver to Your Church, especially those who have wandered from it or are in doubt through the corruption of Your truth.  Mercifully visit and restore them that in gladness of heart they may take pleasure in Your Word and be made wise to salvation through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a