Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like someone going on a journey, who leaving home and putting the servants in charge of their work, commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore--for you do not know when the lord of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning--lest the lord come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.
You, O Lord, are father to us,
our Redeemer from of old is your name.
O Lord, why do you make us err from your ways
and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
for the tribes of your heritage.
O 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 terrible things which we looked not for,
you came down, the mountain 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 works for those who await you.
You meet those who joyfully work righeousness,
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 that calls upon your name,
who arises to take hold of you;
for you have hid your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hands of our inquities.
Yet, O Lord, you are father to us;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and remember not inquity for ever.
--Isaiah 63:16-17, 19-64:7
1. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still. 2. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Search me and try me, Savior today! Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now, as in thy presence humbly I bow. 3. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine! 4. Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!
Text: Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934
These words from Isaiah are altogether too much. Any four of them would do. Take the first four. What a question to put to God! We do the wandering, we do the evil-and God gets the blame! And then God gets invited to solve it all as the reading goes on to its "Rend the heavens!" day. Some people have "Rend the heavens!" lives. What would that be? Hunger? Fear? Weakness? Depression? Addiction? Discrimination? How many lives shout to God to tear up the skies and put an end to this unhappiness on the tiny planet Earth! Read Psalm 88 for an extreme example. What reason could anyone have to speak this way to God?
Look a a few December leaves, the old ones blowing around the ground. Isaiah did. What did he see?
"Yet," he says. Yet? Yet, what?
A character in one of J.D. Salinger's short stories says that the most important word in the Bible is "watch." That person would love Advent and especially the gospel: "Be on the watch! Stay awake! Watch with a sharp eye! Look around you! Be on your guard!" Why would "watch" be anyone's favorite notion? How do we watch? What are we watching for? Take the question to Isaiah; take it to a saint you have known and one you wish you had known.
What would help us stay awake and watch?