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Why Don't You Hurry?
December 3, 1978

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

ISAIAH 63:17-64:7

Lately, I have been very tired. My energy seems to sag, my mind is sluggish. It's not as creative as it sometimes is. I decided the other day to diagnose my condition as shock. Shock is the anesthesia that nature administers to our body when life gets heavy.  Anesthesia comes in times of crises and times of death. And I decided that I and perhaps much of society is in shock these days. Just consider the events of the last few weeks—900 people will commit suicide in the name of faith and loyalty, assassination of a United States Congressman, a San Francisco mayor and Councilman, the bizarre murder in Stockton of a father by his own son, two people waiting in Utah to face a firing squad, a couple very dear to me are getting divorced, we went through the anxiety of losing our church secretary and hiring a new one. Life goes on and on and I'm in shock. When life gets heavy, shock is administered and it comes across as a numbness, being tired, escaping, withdrawing. We have been bombarded, we have been assaulted these last few weeks. Our sensitivities, our awareness, our perceptions, our understanding, the way we face life have been bombarded and assaulted. 

In the time in which we're now living, thank God for Advent. Advent comes upon us with a simple prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We've said it all through the service. We’ve sung it. The theme is, “O Lord, come. We need you now.” The prophet Isaiah wrote this lamenting, wailing desolate cry in a time like ours. The tiny nation of Israel at that time was being bombarded. It was being assaulted on every hand by their enemies as we today are being bombarded, assaulted by violence that is increasing in frequency and horror. We are being bombarded by fanaticism. We are being bombarded by family breakdown, by marriage dissolutions and children in trouble. 

As we are being bombarded and assaulted, hear this cry that Isaiah made many years ago in similar times. He cried to the Lord, “Where is your great concern for us? Where is your power? Where are your love and compassion? Do not ignore us. Come back. For the sake of your people, come back. Why don't you tear open the sky and come down?” O God, give us sanity. O God, give us peace. O God, give us love. Come, Lord Jesus. Why don't you hurry? We need the spirit of Christmas with peace and love. In the shadow of the resurrection, we pray for Easter victory over evil, for God's triumph over evil. We cry from the depths of our being as did Isaiah. “Tear open the sky and come down.” 

And then Isaiah describes the situation at that time and describes what he was going through. On behalf of what he felt the people were going through, he cries, “You have hidden yourself from us. You have abandoned us because of our sins. O Lord, you have abandoned us.”

And doesn't our world act like one abandoned like an orphan, abandoned on the street with little love and compassion. He felt that God should have kept them from this abandonment. He cries out. “Why do you let us stray from your ways? Why do you make us so stubborn that we turn away from you?” Like a child who catches cold and blames mother—“Why didn't you make me wear a jacket?” It's her fault. O Lord, why do you let us stray? Why do you make us so stubborn? O God, come. He says we are like leaves that wither and are blown away by the wind. 

But the Lord usually comes upon invitation. The Lord rarely crashes in. Sometimes God does as you know. He bombards, crashes through the door and invades our lives. But usually the Lord is polite and waits for an invitation. God does not go where uninvited. Those were the kinds of times when, according to the Prophet, no one turns to you in prayer. No one goes to you for help. The invitation, the solicitation is to invite the Lord to come. There are many kinds of prayers. There are the gimme prayers—gimme me this, gimme this or that. There are griping, complaining prayers. There are thank you prayers. And then there is this simple Advent prayer, which should be at the heart of our faith and our dreams today—O come. Come, Lord Jesus. Why don't you hurry? As you light the Advent candle in the privacy of your own home in the midst of your family, whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus.” As you come to Communion today, take a breath, dip the bread in the juice, remembering Jesus’ death and sensing his presence in our midst, whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus.” The Lord comes when invited. 

And secondly, the Lord comes when there's room. You don't invite anyone into your house when there's no room. You don't invite anyone to dinner when there's no more room at the table. You don't invite anyone to dinner when there's no more food. Likewise, it is needless, it is pointless, it is fruitless to invite the Lord to come when there's no room, when we are so full, preoccupied with our own dreams, our desires, our concerns, when we're so full of ourselves there's no room for the Lord. Isaiah said it this way, “All of us have been sinful.” Even our best actions are tainted with sin, with that which separates us from God. 

Advent is a time of preparation, a time of self examination. We should look at ourselves, look at our families, look at ourselves as a church and ask, “What is there in my life that's interfering with the Holy Spirit? What is there in my life that's preventing God from really moving with peace and love? What sins are there that I'm not willing to confess—to lay open and bear before God?” What is there in your life you are willing to forsake, to give up, in order to make room for the Lord Jesus. 

O come, Lord Jesus. O come. We need you today. We need you in this world. We need you in our own lives. We feel desolate. We feel in shock. We feel numb. We feel abandoned. O come, Lord Jesus. We invite you, Lord Jesus, We make room. We come before you, Lord Jesus, like an undecorated Christmas tree, waiting to be adorned, waiting to be made beautiful, waiting to be decorated. 

O Lord Jesus, we come. Inviting, open, honestly confessing that which is sinful in our lives and praying from the depths of our being. Come Lord Jesus. Why don't you hurry?

© 1978 Douglas I. Norris