“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down; the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:1-4) This Sunday’s first lesson is a part of a lament by Israel following their return to Jerusalem after the exile. They are crying out to God because things are not going very well. They have returned to a city in ruins and a destroyed Temple. Is it any wonder that they want God to come down and vindicate them with signs and wonders? Have you ever been so distraught that you also wanted God to tear the heavens apart and deal with your enemies in a dramatic and conclusive manner? But, (at least in my experience) that is not the way God works. Oh, be very sure, the Lord will answer this prayer but not with an earth-shattering event. Instead, God will tear open the heavens and… a baby boy will emerge. Strange, isn’t it how the most “awesome deed” of all goes largely unnoticed? Odd isn’t it how the most awesome manifestation of God’s power is not discovered in a burning landscape, but in the cry of a newborn shivering in a stable? As we begin our Advent journey, may you and I see in new ways how our all-powerful Lord makes himself known and may we remember that he does answer our prayers but (more often than not) rarely in the ways we expect.