Winter Wasteland (Immanuel)

prayers, Theology

This is part of a series of prayers through Isaiah 7:14 for those who feel that they cannot celebrate the Advent season (Intro, Carols, Pretensions, Immanuel).

“Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.”


We reel
        and falter
        and wander
        and forget
        and take revenge
        and write them off
        and lose heart
        and “Get the hell out of my life.”

We hear many sneaking,
                                creeping voices
                                in the first person:

Our pain is too intricate
                                for your care.
Our mistakes say too much about us
                                for your love
                                —your real, approving love.
Our consequences are too permanent
                                for your power.
Our regret goes deeper
                                than your reach.
Our trauma is beyond us,
                                and you.

And you.

Never unsettled?
Never surprised?
Never too late?

No. We refuse that “Thou.”

Act.
Unsettle yourself
                        and us.
Surprise yourself
                        and us.
Swoop in
                        for us
                        against our calamitous impulses,
                        beside our bewitching habits,
                        in spite of all our “too lates,”
                        before and around, guiding our “if onlys.”

We struggle,
                        and at times hate
                        (and at times love)
                                to admit
                        our situation with you:
                        Your Name.

We “shall call his name Immanuel.”
Your_Name_WW

Winter Wasteland (Pretensions)

prayers

This is part of a series of prayers through Isaiah 7:14 for those who feel that they cannot celebrate the Advent season (Intro, Carols, Pretensions, Immanuel).

“O Come, thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny.”


 
Undo our tangled emotions.
Sew a smooth cloth to dress our wounds.
                                            to sling our sprains.
                                            to clean up our messes.

Longsuffer our distrusting hearts.
               We are eager to point out your absence.
               We are ready to fall on our swords.
               We are ready to coerce your attention
                                  any way we can.

Prop up our unshakeable faith
               which is gone in the morning,
               which carries all of our unspoken expectations
               and all our purity and pretension.

It is not easy for us, Lord.

We live in an open world,
               and are threatened.
We pray to a closed heaven,
               and feel ignored.
It is not easy for us to sit still
               while you do … what, exactly?

Give us a miracle.
                 a sign from you.
                 a way to test you.
                 a sense of self.
                 a word.
                 a reason to walk away.
                 a reason to stay.
                 a little help.
                 something.
                 anything.

“A virgin shall conceive
               and bear a son.”

Closed_Sky_WW

Winter Wasteland (Carols)

prayers

This is part of a series of prayers through Isaiah 7:14 for those who feel that they cannot celebrate the Advent season (Intro, Carols, Pretensions, Immanuel).


You ask too much of us.

          “Let nothing you despair.”
          “Comfort and joy.”
          “God and sinners reconciled.”
          “Let every heart prepare him room.”
          “Let loving hearts enthrone him.”
          “Sing in exultation.”
          “Born this happy morning.”
          “The little Lord Jesus,
          No crying he makes.”

We would sing gladly
          if we could mean it.
We would pray
          if you would answer.
We might rejoice
          if you cried.
We would ask
          if you weren’t doing other things with other people.
We would knock
          if you didn’t have other company
          —more faithful company.
We would seek and bother and annoy
          if we thought you acted.
We would believe you care,
          but we both know why that’s not possible.

Bid us the mercy
                    and courage
                    to linger unfinished
                    in our carols:

          “Descend to us, we pray.”
          “That mourns in lonely exile here.”
          “In sin and error pining.”
          “Sins and sorrows grow.”
          “Far as the curse is found.”
          “Fails my heart, I know not how;
          I can go no longer.”

“Silent night.”
          Yes. Silent day.
          Silent week.
          Silent month.
          Silent year.
          You’re par for the course.

Only you can make these words take root:
     Do not let our dissatisfaction with you rule us.
     Make a fool of our stubborn despair.
          Don’t hate us.
          Don’t leave us. . .
          But don’t ask us for what
          you have already taken.

How could you possibly restore our hope?
What hand could you play that would beat our doubt?

“Therefore, the Lord himself
will give you a sign.”
Christmas_Mercy