By Lilly Lewin
WEEK one of Advent begins with the candle of HOPE and the passage from Isaiah 64.
The Word HOPE is TIKVAH in Hebrew. What if we viewed HOPE like a cord or a rope that binds us to God?
“We typically think of hope as a feeling that something desirable is likely to happen. Unlike a wish or longing, hope implies expectation of obtaining what is desired. In Hebrew, hope is the word tikvah (teek-VAH). Strong’s defines it as a cord, expectation, and hope. It comes from the Hebrew root kavah meaning to bind together, collect; to expect: – tarry, wait (for, on, upon). While hope in English is abstract, hope in Hebrew provides a strong visual. A bound cord, rope, or thread cannot only be seen with the eyes, but it is something one can grasp hold of with their hands. In other words, hope is something real enough that we can cling to it. Hope is not something out of our reach.“ Kisha Gallagher (more on this from Kisha)
How is this definition of HOPE and encouragement to you today? How do you need to hold on to the cord of HOPE today?
READ Isaiah 64 and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you today… what is the image or phrase that speaks to you?
Isaiah 64:1-9 (NIV)
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are all your people.
Spend some time reflecting on this passage. What image does the Holy Spirit highlight for you? What do you notice? What is God speaking to you about through Isaiah 64?
Here are few practices to try as part of your advent reflections on Isaiah 64. You can do these on your own, around your table as a family or with housemates, or even on a Zoom gathering with your church community. Everyone will just need advance warning about the supplies needed to pray with for your time together.
You will need these supplies to pray with :
A leaf from your yard or garden. Some play dough or clay. A rag or paper towel. A piece of yarn or cord.
Here is a homemade playdough recipe to make and you don’t have to have cream of tarter, it just makes the clay last longer!
PRAYER OF CONFESSION WITH YOUR CLOTH/RAG or Paper Towel.
Hold your cloth/rag/towel in your hand. What “filthy rags” have been getting in your way lately? Old stuff, junk, fears, habits? Hold on to a cloth, rag, or paper towel and give them to Jesus. Allow Jesus to clean up the stuff and forgive you today. As you use paper towels, rags, etc., be reminded that Jesus wants to take away the filthy stuff that is getting in the way of your relationship with him.
PRAYING WITH A LEAF.
“We are all like fallen leaves, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”
Have everyone hold on to their leaf. Look at the Leaf…
Consider the color, texture of the leaf. How are you feeling like that leaf today? Talk to Jesus about this.
Consider how you/they have been blown about lately by the cares of the world.
Talk to Jesus about how you are feeling today.
What do you know to be true about leaves? What are the positives of leaves? Ask Jesus to reveal to you the message of the leaf for you this Advent Season.
Give Jesus your cares, concerns to carry for you.
ADVENT DEVOTION/PRACTICE with Clay
“We are the clay you are our potter, we are all the work of your hand” Isaiah 64:8
Play with your clay.
Mold it, feel it in your hands.
How is God molding you in this season? In this time of Covid-19?
How does God want to mold you? Perhaps God wants to mold you more into the image of God? What would that look like?
How have you felt God’s hand at work in your life?
As you play with your clay, ask Jesus/God to show you what God is molding in your life right now.
Take time to listen.
Create a symbol or a clay figure of a person to represent you. Add this to your clay to your Advent wreath/ centerpiece. Know that God will continue to hold you in God’s hand this Advent season.
Know the Jesus is continuing to mold you into his image.
Spend some time thanking Jesus for how you are made and for his love.
THE CORD OF HOPE
Hold a piece of yarn, cord or rope in your hand. Consider the definition of HOPE at the top of the page. The word Tikvah (Hebrew for Hope) is first found in Joshua 2 in Rahab’s red cord that saves her life and the lives of her family members from destruction in the battle of Jericho. The cord of salvation and the cord of hope! What does your cord of hope need to be like this Advent season? Are you connecting to the hope of Jesus? Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded that Jesus showed the ultimate connection to us by coming to earth as a baby. Jesus wants us to hold on to the cord of HOPE and know that he is with us even in the mess of our lives and our world! Tie the cord around your wrist as a reminder or use it as a bookmark or put it somewhere you will see often each day to help you remember!