Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
12:00pm Fellowship
Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
315-265-7474

Our Prayer

November 30:

November 30, 2014 (Advent #1)
Potsdam and WS
Call:       Mark 13: 32-37
Read:   W&S #5
Text:       Isaiah 64: 1-9
Closing:    1 Corinthians 1: 3-7

                Our Prayer

2500 - 3000 years ago,  things were a mess.

The people of Jerusalem had lost interest in God
They were giving lip service to being his subjects
But they didn't live lives of:
    Obedience
    Trust
    Praise
    Sacrifice

To a great extent the people of Jerusalem treated as a given
    God's promise to be their God
        Without regard to their own attitudes or actions

Their approach seemed to be
     One of expecting God to do what they expected God to do
    And paying little or no attention to the thought that
God might have expectations of them.

They should have known.

In the Sinai or Mosaic covenant God told the wandering Hebrews
        I will be your God and you will be my people
But in that covenant God had added,
    "If     you obey my commandments"
It was that "IF" clause of the contract
    That the people treated as if it were nonexistent.

They consistently ignored their responsibility to obey God's commandments
    Commandments that began with
        "I am the Lord your God
        You must have no other gods before me."

But the people had, by the way they led their lives,
    worshipped such idols as:
        Money and wealth
        Power and prestige
        Unfettered rather than responsible freedom.

They had become
a selfish, self centered, and self indulgent  people
rather than a people who gave God priority in their lives.

God tried to get them back in line.

God sent the prophets to warn, teach, and cajole them.
    Jeremiah, First Isaiah, and Micah

And the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians
    Instead of giving those in Jerusalem a warning
merely reinforced their feeling of importance

For the people in Jerusalem must have thought
    "Look how important we are to God
        For the Samaritans were punished, but we were not"
    "God clearly loves us more."

But God didn't.
God loved them dearly and deeply - but not more.
And the people of Jerusalem back then did not seem to love God
    Nearly as much as they loved themselves.

And then Babylon conquered Jerusalem
    Taking many of the educated and influential into exile
    Destroying the temple
    And leaving Jerusalem a devastated community.

And despite the prophets warnings and their own distruction
The people attributed their situation
        Not to their human unfaithfulness
        But to divine indifference.     [Hanson, p. 235]

They concluded that God didn't care about them anymore.
They concluded that they could not count on God.
    They concluded that God had let them down
    Blind to any recognition that they had let God down.

After all, it couldn't be their own fault

Some seventy years later,
the Persians conquered the Babylonians
and allowed the Jews to return home

About that time
    The third version of Isaiah prayed the prayer that is our text

Now, we know that the prophets
    Spoke to the people on behalf of God
And Spoke to God on behalf of the people

And thus that third version of Isaiah
    Prayed to God on behalf of the people

Isaiah's prayer is more like a psalm than our formal prayers
It didn't have magic words like "Almighty God or "Our Father who art in Heaven" at the beginning
    It doesn't have an "Amen" at the end.

But it is Isaiah talking to God for the community
    It is a prayer.     [Isaiah 64: 1-9]

In this prayer Isaiah, knowing why God had punished the people
But trusting in God's steadfastness
says, in essence, on behalf of the Jewish community

"God, things have been a mess
and we need you to come down so your presence will clean up the mess."

"We know your anger and our punishment
    resulted from our sins and our transgressions
    to the extent that our righteous acts
        are so dwarfed by our sins
        that they are like a filthy cloth.

"And yet, Father, we know you are the potter
and we are but the clay you form into something of value."

"Please, God, do not be exceedingly angry"
"Please, God, do not remember our wrongdoing forever"
"Please, God, remember that we are your people."

Some years later, God answered that prayer
    And came down to earth through God's son Jesus of Nazareth
        To straighten out the mess.
        And to establish a new covenant.

That was then.  Now let's shift our attention to the present.
We too can look around and see that things are a mess.

Many people in our world seem to have lost interest in God
Some give lip service
But even many of them don't live lives of:
    Obedience and Trust
    Praise and  Sacrifice

To a great extent we people of today treat as a given
    God's promise to be our God
        Without regard to our own attitudes or actions
Our approach seems to be
     One of expecting God to do what we expect God to do
    And paying little or no attention
to the thought that God might have expectations of us.

We should know better

For we still have that Sinai or Mosaic covenant
    And yet we still treat that "IF" clause as nonexistent.
    For we too have such idols as
        Money and wealth
        Power and prestige
        Unfettered rather than responsible freedom.

We too have become
a selfish, self centered, and self indulgent  people
rather than a people who give God priority in their lives.

God wants us to get back in line.

And we have not only the words of those early prophets
    But we have the Son whom God sent in answer to Isaiah's prayer
    And through whom God established that new covenant.
And yet we still find ourselves thinking
how important we are to God
and that God loves us more than others

And God does love us dearly and deeply - but not more.

And we, all too often do not seem to love God
    Nearly as much as we love ourselves.

We know about the OT punishment.

And yet our human unfaithfulness reveals our human indifference.

We often don't count on God
because many just don't care about God anymore

And thus we ignore Christ's "Great Commission"
by not being witnesses or making disciples
and we ignore Christ's "Great Commandment"
by not loving God by loving all our neighbors.

And thus we find ourselves drawn to Isaiah's prayer
Which is what our community needs to pray.

And so, trusting in God's steadfastness
We pray it not just for ourselves, but for our worldwide community saying, in essence,

"Things are a mess
we need you to come down through your Holy Spirit
so your presence will clean up the mess."

"We know any anger you have for us
    results from our sins and our transgressions

Like the people of Isaiah's day,
our righteous acts are so dwarfed by our sins
        that they are like a filthy cloth."

"And yet, Father, we know, acknowledge and proclaim that
you are the potter
and we are but the clay you form into something of value."

"Please, God, do not be exceedingly angry"
"Please, God, do not remember our wrongdoing forever"
"Please, God, remember that we are your people."

And so we begin our Advent preparations,
    By recognizing our failures     and
    By making Isaiah's prayer our prayer

We begin Advent the way we should
In prayer, in confession, and in humility.