Sunday 3rd December

First Sunday of Advent

Is 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8 Ps79 1Cor 1:3-9 Mk 13:33-37

The origin of the word human comes through Latin from the word for earth or soil. So when Isaiah says: “You are the potter, we are the clay” he is being accurate as well as poetic. And we use the word “human” so often to emphasise the limitation, the frailty, the weakness of people; that is something Isaiah is so aware of in this most poignant passage. It is the flawed nature of Israel that the prophet draws attention to: they have drifted away, they have forgotten, been distracted and no longer recognise the God who is their Father. And now because of this they are lost and, because of their sin, not able to come back. In this hopeless situation Isaiah pleads for God to act because that is the only way: “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.” Advent is the time of waiting for the coming of the Lord; because ultimately it is only by God’s actions that humans can have any future. The reading from Paul and the gospel both emphasise the waiting – Paul addressing the Corinthians confident in their faith, Jesus challenging his listeners  “to stay awake.” The Christian life is always lived acknowledging the utter dependence on God, but the reason we, like the Corinthians, can live with confidence is that for humans that dependence is rooted in God’s love. Isaiah pleads for God to come down, but for Christians that has already been realised in the Word made flesh who dwelt – and dwells – amongst us.