Advent Faith Study Part Two

Circle in the Dark.jpg

Our Advent Faith Study has begun. This is session two. Our text is a book by Rev. Rachael Keefe A Circle in the Dark. Keefe begins this chapter with this verse, “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” Psalm 85:10.

Our session tonight will follow three cycles of reflection; a scripture text, a poem from Rachael Keefe and then a question offered by Rev. Keefe.

Reading #1

Isaiah 29:13-24

The Lord said: Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote; so I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden. Ha! You who hide a plan too deep for the Lord, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay? Shall the thing made say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of the one who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Shall not Lebanon in a very little while become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest? On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant shall be no more and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off—those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right. Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: No longer shall Jacob be ashamed, no longer shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.

A Quiet Lament by Rachael Keefe

Where is the understanding for the erring spirits?

When will Your name be sanctified?

Awe of You is surely absent in most places…

Day after day I look into their eyes and see the hollow empty, places left by the hands of others. Who does this to our children?

Jacob grows more pale day by day as little ones go hungry or forgotten or abused or misused.

Where is the joy and exultation these meek and needy so desperately call for? There is no justice in their bruises and no hope in their tears…

Where are the amazing things? When will the blind see and the deaf hear? Many hearts are surely far from You…

Some turn to me for wisdom or justice or hope – a flickering of light in blinding gloom I am but one…

Will You not put an end to ignorance and madness? Can you not shield the innocent, As You came to Jacob’s aid, come now. Shock and amaze us all once again lest we all fall into darkness.

Where is the understanding for our erring spirits? When will we sanctify Your name? Summon our hearts from far away…

Questions:

  1. Do you feel like you are far from God or close to God or somewhere in the middle? What makes you feel that way?

  2. Where do you experience awe of God?

  3. Is there any kind of ignorance or madness that you would like to see come to an    

    end?

Reading #2

Isaiah 35:5-7

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A Villanelle for Advent by Rachael Keefe

I wait in darkness, longing for Your light. Despair lingers, like jackals haunting me. Come to me now; unleash Your peace tonight.

How soon will desserts bloom with Your delight washing all fear in waters flowing free? I wait in darkness, longing for Your light.

Wilderness and deserts have filled my sight long enough. I am hungry and thirsty—Come to me now; unleash Your peace tonight.

Candles of hope and peace hold off the night and herald the end of despondency. I wait in darkness, longing for Your light.

When reeds and rushes grow, all will be right—the lame will dance and all jackals will flee. Come to me now; unleash Your peace tonight.

Keeping watch for You. I let go of fright and anguish. Eagerly and prayerfully I wait in darkness, longing for Your light; Come to me now; unleash Your peace tonight.

Questions:

  1. If you have experienced a loss or deep sense of regret do you feel this more keenly this time of year? How does it affect you? What makes you feel better?

  2. What is your prayer as you wait for the peace of Christ to come anew?

Reading #3

Isaiah 42:2-6

He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

A Prayer for Peace by Rachael Keefe

Where is our refuge and our shelter? We sit in darkness and the shadow of death. War and violence fill our lives. Year after year.

Is there no better way? Lord, in Your mercy, guide our feet in the way of peace.

We are awash in the bloodstains of judgement and caught in the storms of hatred. Ignorance and isolation separate us. Day after day.

Is there no better way? Lord, in Your mercy, guide our feet in the way of peace.

We burn with shame and guilt pleading with gods or our making to offer us forgiveness and life. Hour by hour.

Is there no better way? Lord, in Your mercy, guide our feet in the way of peace.

We are lost in the wilderness of fear unable to recall the prophets of old. We deceive ourselves. Moment by moment.

Is there no better way? Lord, in Your mercy, guide our feet in the way of peace.

Let us sit in darkness no more! Let us not cling to the shadows of death or destruction or despair. For another minute.

There is a better way! Lord, in Your mercy, guide our feet in the way of peace.

Questions:

  1. Do you need refuge or shelter at this time of your life?

  2. What does walking in the “way of peace” mean to you?