God’s Anger Brings Hope? Reflections on the Book of Isaiah

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When I read my Bible, I tend to ignore the prophets. Well, except for Jonah. I come back to that gem again and again. Jonah is not a children’s story — its real target is curmudgeonly adults like me.

I steer away from the prophets because, well, God’s rage scared me. So, imagine my surprise when I felt nudged toward reading Isaiah this Advent. When I’ve read Isaiah before, I narrowed my focus to the happy and hopeful sections, while forgetting hope is made more substantial by the presence of God’s anger and justice. I looked for the love and light, while glossing over the gory.

But, not this time. Isaiah interrupted my world this Advent. Continue reading

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God’s in control?

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Advent. The season where we wait expectantly for Jesus to come. It’s a season of hope bubbling up in the darkness. We trust God is bigger than the things going bump in the night.

And here’s where the message of Advent and God’s sovereignty gives me pause.

For some, “God’s in control” is a sparkles and glitter concept. God is in control implies God’s going to work things out for you or me. Sunbeams. Kittens. Daisies. Easy-peasy. Continue reading

Desperate for Advent

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The Need for Advent

I need Advent this year. This year it’s beyond enjoyment. I need it. In years past, I approached Advent as a personal “God, fix me or help me (usually with infertility issues)” season. This year Advent pulls me to think of justice and hope in a systemic way, incorporating Church, U.S. government and culture. Continue reading

How Can I Keep From Singing?

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In other years, Advent marked my favorite part of the church calendar. All the anticipation and hope made me eager for Jesus. This year I’ve followed our Christmas preparation traditions, and the emotions and the “feels” of Advent have seemed empty.

The world seems especially violent this November and December; I know it is almost always violent, but somehow the weight of the evil seems much more pervasive. Maybe I’m just paying more attention rather than burying my head in the sand.

And as I sat through a choir concert last week with J and my mother-in-law, I found myself tearing up as I heard Robert Lowry’s hymn How Can I Keep from Singing at the close of the concert. The choir’s singing filled Orchestra Hall with hopeful, worshipful song. As they sang the chorus, “No storm can shake my inmost calm while to the Rock I’m clinging,” I felt God’s warmth with me.

Even as life feels uncertain, even as I’m not sure how some things will shake out, I’m still hanging onto Jesus with a death grip.  Jesus is worthy of that trust, and I can be confident, though waves crash overhead and storms arise, Jesus won’t drop me either.

Though I’ve only heard the words and tune of the hymn once, they linger with me on repeat in my head. And in the repetition, joy and hope bubble up from some mysterious place. How can I keep from singing?