Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lectionary Discussion for Dec 14, 2008


December 14, 2008 Third Sunday of Advent (Purple or Blue) Gaudete Sunday

The scripture readings are found at Vanderbilt Divinity Library
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 This passage makes me wish I was preaching from the Old Testament this Advent. What a powerful passage; 1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news. Every verse is rich with what this good news is. Jesus Christ used the words of Isaiah 61:1 and 2 when he publicly claimed his calling in Luke 4:18-19 of the New Testament. Jesus stopped short of declaring the day of God's vengeance. IN its original context it is written to the dashed hopes of the earliest returnees from the Babylonian Exile. They return only to find all is not well nor how they dream it would be.
Verse 3 says They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. How are we oaks of Righteousness? What would an Oak of Righteousness look like?
Verse 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. So how has your church built itself up? How have they rose up from the former devastations and repaired itself? How is this a message of hope for us today?
Verse 8 For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; If the Lord loves justice do we and if we don’t why not and what will it take? And if the Lord hates robbery and wrong doing, do we and if don’t why not? How does this verse fit the present day situation? How do we need to hear this again and again?
Dr. Robert Linthicum, Partners in Urban Transformation writes the following; In other words, the prophet who is sent by God (in fact, even the Messiah) would come to the people both with the good news that jubilee was to be reinstated and practiced in Israel, but also to make it happen by his spiritual, political and economic intervention in the land. It would be the Man who would proclaim liberation and organize the people to deal with their spiritual and physical poverty and powerlessness. But they would do it themselves! It would be the people who would take charge of their situation, rebuild their walls, repair their ruined cities, and bloom where they were planted by God. The people would empower themselves. But they would never have empowered themselves, if there were not One to come to them and declare, “Let us rebuild!”

Psalm 126 (UMH 847) A Psalm celebrating the restoration of the fortunes of Zion by God and the joy that followed. I like this in verse 1; “we were like those who dream.” Do you still dream, does your church, what is your dreams? Verse 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; "The LORD has done great things for them." So how are our mouths filled with laughter and shouts of joy? What great things has God done for you and for your church?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 16 Rejoice always is the beginning words of this selection from Thessalonians. Paul promises that with the coming Parousia, God will keep them and protect them, but that there were some things they were to do as faithful. The believers' task is to direct their energies towards the holiness God offers and enables. This includes always rejoicing, praying constantly, giving thanks in all things, not suppressing the spirit, not despising prophesying, holding fast to what is good and abstaining from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely. Has the God of peace sanctified you? Do you know this God of peace? What kind of peace is this? Is this peace the world needs? 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. How has God been faithful in your life? Do you believe that he will do this that Paul talks about?

John 1:6-8, 19-28 Here comes John again; 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. Everybody wants to know who he is and assume he is someone else. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. How are we to be the witnesses to light these days? How is it that the world needs this light these days? The leaders were bothered by John’s baptism since he wasn’t who they thought he was? How does that get played out nowadays? Where does Baptism fit into Advent? Where does it speak to the light and to the darkness of our lives and world?
Bruce G. Epperly at Process and Faith Lectionary says the following: In Advent, we recognize both our witness to the light that has come and to the light that will come. As light bearers, we need to ask: How do we personally live our witness to the light? Do we hide our witness or will we let it shine in ways that bring justice and transformation in our communities, families, nation, and daily relationships? Advent spirituality calls us to see all of life as vocational. The challenge for Advent is to look beyond the limitations of life and our fears for the future in order to imagine along with God new possibilities and then live out these possibilities in practices and actions that will, one step at a time, transform us and our world. Where will God call us next? Toward what Advent adventures is the spirit leading us? Where are we being “anointed” to do great things for God and the world?

The joyful Sunday in Advent (known as "Gaudete") is represented by rose (or pink) instead of the penitential purple color. Gaudete is the imperative plural form of the Latin verb gaudere (to rejoice). It is a command ordering us to rejoice! In these days of penance and preparation leading up to the feast of our Savior's birth, it reminds us of the joy that is to come, and serves, amid this season of penance, as a kind of 'break' when we recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.

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