First Friday of Advent: Rending

By Ginger Weeber

Advent Devotional | December 2, 2022

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down…

—Isaiah 64.1a (
Read Isaiah 64)

I have never thought of myself as standing in the gap, between the way things are and the way they will be when Jesus returns. That is until recently, as I’ve reflected on the long history I have with a group of praying women.

Every Wednesday morning, a group of women in my neighborhood meet to pray for one another, for others, and for larger community and world issues. We do pretty ordinary work—catching up, sharing prayer requests, praying, and during in-between times, texting each other further prayer requests or answers to prayer. 

I have notebooks full of prayers for the things we’ve seen each other through—cancer, broken bones, lost loved ones, lost jobs, wayward loved ones, addiction, and more.

We ache for one another. We ache for others. We see the hold which principalities and powers have on those we love, those we tangentially know, and people across the world. 

We often cry out to God over the pain and injustice we see. Isaiah says, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.” Facing the evil and sin and heartaches of this world takes courage. And the only way I have that courage is by facing it with these other women. In community. 

In her book Advent: The Once & Future Coming of Jesus Christ, Fleming Rutledge says that Advent is not for the faint of heart. To grasp the depth of the human predicament, we have to be willing to enter into the very worst. This means being willing to face the most hopeless situations. 

And believe me, some of the situations we pray for seem hopeless. 

In prayer, we move from sadness about our human situations to an ever-deepening knowledge that nothing short of divine intervention can answer human misery. This is not a bad place to be.

We have to hold the broken person, the broken situation, the broken world, up to God and trust Him to intervene, knowing that He will come again to make all things right and whole. 

Our prayer group has seen God move in people’s lives and situations, but not always in the ways we ask. He has healed one person of cancer, but another person has died of cancer. He has brought jobs to some of those who have been unemployed. But another person is still wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Some, after years of prayer, have been freed from illness while others remain sick. 

We are doing the work of the Kingdom in the now-but-not-yet. We stand in Advent—in the tension of  life in this present world, full of brokenness and suffering, awaiting the fulfillment of the promise of a future glory yet to come. 

And we also get glimpses of that glory here and now, when our eyes are opened wide enough to see God’s hand at work. 

Isaiah 64 goes on to say: 

From of old no one has heard
    or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
    who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
    those who remember you in your ways.

Almighty and everlasting God, You govern all things both in heaven and on earth. Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Ginger Weeber currently serves at the CCO as Gift & Stewardship Officer and has been connected to the CCO’s ministry since her undergraduate days at Carnegie Mellon University.