The Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle, a UCC pastor in the Hartford East Association, serves as Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA, in Plainville, CT.
Scripture: Isaiah 64: 1-9 (NRSV)
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.
You meet those who gladly do right,
those who remember you in your ways.
But you were angry, and we sinned;
because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord,
and do not remember iniquity for ever.
Now consider, we are all your people.
Reflection: Come Down
As I am writing this, a few weeks before the start of Advent, I am looking ahead to the season we are now entering with a rather unusual set of feelings. Perhaps you are as well. In this difficult year dominated by the presence of COVID-19, a lot of things we have taken for granted, many of us for a long time, have up and gone away, at least for now. Family gatherings at Christmas time and all those special traditions we all enjoy, each in our own way...Well, they most likely are just not going to be the same. For me and for my wife, our usual family gatherings, with children and grandchildren joining us in person from various and sundry places, just are not going to happen the way they usually do.
Our experience of 'church' will most likely be different. Many of us won't experience that feeling we find in gathering together, hearing the story and singing carols, in a setting that speaks to us of a very special connection with others gathered together in a place that offers us a unique kind of feel, a connection with people around us and through this connection of shared experience, an ever deeper connection with the divine, that loving mystery we name as God.
This Advent, we, like our ancestors described in these words from Isaiah, might kind of feel out of place. Preparing for Christmas and experiencing much of what we identify with Advent just doesn't seem like the same.
IT is NOT.....OR....is it?
Might it not be what all Advents at core really are? A time wherein we imperfect people, whose lives are all too often beset with worries of varied and sundry kinds, wait in anticipation for a God who "would tear down the heavens and come down", yet, in reality, might come less dramatically, a God who may come in the simple presence we would find in our experience of absence. In this uncalled for and undesired way of entering Advent, may this Christ, portrayed by the poet as playing in "ten thousand places....in eyes not His"....May this Christ respond to those prophetic words we affirm in this unusual season, as we draw near 2020's end....words that speak to this experience we have all been living, Isaiah's opening words with which we enter Advent :
"O that you would tear down the heavens... AND COME DOWN!"
Amen, Come Lord Jesus! Amen, Come Lord Jesus!
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the more than 255,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
- For the compassion to make safe and reasonable choices as Covid-19 cases rise in the region and across the country
- For a peaceful continuation of election and transition procedures for this nation
- For the people of Somalia as Cyclone Gati makes landfall and is predicted to dump nearly 8 inches of rain on the coastal nation
- For those suffering from Seasonal Affect Disorder as daylight gets increasingly shorter
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the who foster children in their homes or advocate for orphaned, abandoned, or children under state care
- For mental health care professionals
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
Federated Church of Christ UCC, Brooklyn, CT
Brookline Chinese Christian Church of N.E., Brookline, MA
United Parish of Brookline, Brookline, MA
Brookfield Congregational Church, Inc., Brookfield, MA
Congregational Church of Brookfield, Brookfield, CT
Christ Congregational Church, UCC, Brockton, MA
Broad Brook Congregational Church, Broad Brook, CT
First Congregational Church, Bristol, CT
First Congregational Church UCC in Bristol, Bristol, RI
First Congregational Church, Brimfield, MA
Brighton-Allston Congregational United Church of Christ, Brighton, MA
This Week in History:
November 25, 1950 (70 years ago) The "Storm of the Century" hits eastern U.S., killing more than a hundred. The storm formed over North Carolina and swept north ranging as far east as eastern Ohio. It featured record high and low temperatures (50 degrees in Buffalo; -26 in North Carolina), hurricane level winds (gusts of 140 mph in New England), massive storm surges, and several feet of snow in parts, making it one of the most contrasting storms ever recorded. It was estimated that 160 lives were lost in the storm.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”