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Advent 1: Waiting (Hope)

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During a season which is often full of noise and lists and errands and travelling or connecting long distance, we are going to seek to slow down on Sundays during Advent.
We are going to seek to slow down.
To take time to listen. To hear the Scripture read, as we always do in our Sunday worship gatherings, but then to stop and listen again. And again.
To slow down and pause. To hold space for ourselves and for one another. To ask God to speak to us, and then to have the audacity to practice listening - and to do this together.
We’ll hear the text read three times. And we’ll take a slightly different posture during each of the three readings. The first time, we will just listen. Try to simply hear the text as its read and to hold a posture of attentiveness.
We’ll leave some quiet space just to help us with the whole slowing down thing. Just a minute or two…to just sit. To ask God to speak to you through this text…and to tell God that you’re listening.
Then, we’ll read it a second time - and don’t worry, I’ll remind you of what’s happening. During the second reading, we will pay special attention to whether a word or phrase catches our attention. This time, if something does stick out to you, go ahead and “get stuck” there… write down the word or phrase - and we’ll take a moment after the second reading to share our word or phrase with one another, if you’re comfortable.
Finally, we’ll listen a third time, and during the final reading, we’ll ask God whether there might be an invitation for us in the text. Is there something we sense that God wants us to take with us?
Holy listening, you might call this. It’s one way that we can enter into Advent and intentionally SLOW DOWN, take time, and refuse to add to the noise and sense of busy-ness that often is a reality in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
How to listen to Habakkuk

Habakkuk 1:1-7, 2:1-4, 3:3b-6, 17-18 CEB

1st & 2nd Reading:

Al: Lord, how long will I call for help and you not listen?
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you don’t deliver us.
Why do you show me injustice and look at anguish
so that devastation and violence are before me?
There is strife, and conflict abounds.
The Instruction is ineffective.
Justice does not endure
because the wicked surround the righteous.
Justice becomes warped.
Cindy: Look among the nations and watch!
Be astonished and stare
because something is happening in your days
that you wouldn’t believe even if told.
I am about to rouse the Chaldeans,
that bitter and impetuous nation,
which travels throughout the earth
to possess dwelling places it does not own.
The Chaldean is dreadful and fearful.
He makes his own justice and dignity.
Al: I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint.
Cindy: Write a vision, and make it plain upon a tablet
so that a runner can read it.
There is still a vision for the appointed time;
it testifies to the end;
it does not deceive.
If it delays, wait for it;
for it is surely coming; it will not be late.
Al: Though the fig tree doesn’t bloom,
and there’s no produce on the vine;
though the olive crop withers,
and the fields don’t provide food;
though the sheep are cut off from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls;
I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance.
______________________________________________________

3rd Reading: (slightly shorter - skips a few things)

Al: Lord, how long will I call for help and you not listen?
I cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you don’t deliver us.
Why do you show me injustice and look at anguish
so that devastation and violence are before me?
There is strife, and conflict abounds.
The Instruction is ineffective.
Justice does not endure
because the wicked surround the righteous.
Justice becomes warped.
Cindy: Look among the nations and watch!
Be astonished and stare
because something is happening in your days
that you wouldn’t believe even if told.
Al: I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint.
Cindy: Write a vision, and make it plain upon a tablet
so that a runner can read it.
There is still a vision for the appointed time;
it testifies to the end;
it does not deceive.
If it delays, wait for it;
for it is surely coming; it will not be late.
Al: Though the fig tree doesn’t bloom,
and there’s no produce on the vine;
though the olive crop withers,
and the fields don’t provide food;
though the sheep are cut off from the pen,
and there are no cattle in the stalls;
I will rejoice in the Lord.
I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance.
Faithful God, you proved your faithfulness to your people when they cried out to you in distress. Be present in our distress, and show us how to be faithful to you in the midst of suffering. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
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