For Sunday, December 14, 2008
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:47-55
I Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
This Sunday, there are lots of viable options for sermon scriptures.
The Isaiah reading includes, “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes.”
What would that look like in our world? What does it mean to release prisoners?
Would we be the ones being released or would we be the ones releasing? Or both?
The Psalm includes this passage: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.”
Interesting, isn’t it, that the alternative reading for the Psalm is The Magnificat, which includes these words: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
How do these two readings fit together? Has anyone ever preached on these two passages together instead of choosing one?
1st Thessalonians asks us to keep praying, and to give thanks in all circumstances. It also calls us to test things. Who’s going to write that test?
And John. John reminds us of the light, and how John the Baptist is NOT it. Do we ever get a Jesus complex and think that's the job for which we are applying? Do we ever expect that of our congregations?
So. What are you thinking for this week? Or are you one of the many congregations, like the one I serve, that will be worshipping with Lessons and Carols this Sunday?
Christ is still knocking. It is not yet Christmas. But it is also not the great final Advent, the final coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).
Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent - that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: "On earth peace to those on whom God's favor rests." Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. "I stand at the door?" We however call to him: "Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!" Amen. ~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer