A prayer for the second Sunday of Advent

I am supposed to have answers and clarity and direction. I am supposed to offer structure and encouragement and order. I am supposed to. And I cannot. Or better, at the moment, in this moment, I have few words, little clarity.

I have, we have, all been through weeks that are overwhelming. We have worked long hours. We have faced separation, death, diagnosis, depression, and hundreds of little things that simply didn’t work.

We confess that we turn to comparing struggles, looking at how my week was worse that your week, how my dread is worse than your dread.

We confess that we try to be gracious, ignoring, our own struggles because others seem worse, and thereby doing more damage to ourselves.  

We acknowledge that as we turn toward comparison, we isolate ourselves from each other and from you. We confess that we are wrapped with layers of past pain and current mistrust and anticipation of a future of more of the same.

What we want to be true is that you, who gives us endurance and encouragement, would draw us together. What we want is that

God of hope, fill us with joy and peace. Help us trust in you. Help us not depend on our own attempts at motivation or inspirational posters or wise sayings. Instead, let us overflow with hope by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Because what was written in the past about you and your work and your promises, help us to turn our minds and tune our hearts to you.  Help us know the words of the law and the prophets and the apostles.

Or better, help us listen to David and Isaiah and Paul and Matthew, people who lived lives, who got angry, who felt fear, who saw death, and who learned to trust in you. In their stories, in your words, we will find encouragement and endurance and hope.

We ask through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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Reflecting on the readings for today, Isaiah 11:1-10 and Romans 15:4-13