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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Advent waiting

It's not just about us. This season let's come to God.

We lay some pretty heavy burdens on God’s shoulders. We place some fairly serious expectations in God’s lap. On one level, there is nothing wrong with our regular pleading for the Lord of heaven and earth to come through for us. On another level, though, there are problems with this lopsided practice of faith. Why should the weight of responsibility for sustaining a two-way relationship always fall to God?

Take our prayer instincts, for example. The prayers in many congregations commonly conclude with the petition: “Lord, hear our prayer.” It’s as if the burden for listening is on God hearing us rather than on us hearing God. Our ears are evidently exempt when it comes to many prayers. We trot out a list of concerns and hope God will click into gear and show some responsiveness to our requests.

Advent candlesWould that we could learn more from our Jewish counterparts whose focus is more on hearing from God than speaking to God. Our Christian habit of eagerly announcing what we believe or what we want from God is a far cry from the central pronouncement of the Jewish community: “Hear, O Israel.” Their listening approach to faith would do well alongside our many spoken claims, propositions and “I believe” statements.

Or consider the patient and not-so-patient waiting of many believers who want God to reveal a personal plan for their life. The assumption is that God knows who our mate for life should be, what our next career move ought to be and what our odds for succeeding in that brand-new diet plan will be.


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