Getting ready for Next Sunday of Advent.

I hope some of you celebrated the first Sunday of Advent in your worship today. I was in a service where the Lectionary readings were not read as such, however the reading and the message was from the first twenty-five verses of Luke’s Gospel, chapter 1. This actually fits in with the emphasis for Second Sunday of Advent, so I thought I would go ahead and get up the Scriptures as we look forward to next week.

Announcing the Promised Messenger

Second Sunday of Advent (Dec.6) Announcing the Messenger of the Covenant!

 

Malachi 3:1-4 – The Prophet’s vision

Luke 1:68-79. – The Song of Zachariah

Philippians 1:3-11. – The Desired Result

Luke 3:1-6. – John the Baptist

Where do you typically look for “way-showers?” Where do you typically find the real ones?Luke locates the ministry of John the Baptist historically within the timelines of the Roman Empire and theologically in the prophecy of Isaiah: The winding and difficult pathways between Babylon and Jerusalem were about to be turned into a straight and level highway for returning exiles so that all could witness God’s salvation. John announced this message, and more besides (which we’ll see and hear next week) in a ministry that took him up and down the Jordan River valley. In so doing, he sought out a fairly remote wilderness area inhabited by forgotten people and “little” people rather than the “bright lights” of Jerusalem, fulfilling in this way his father Zechariah’s song.

Paul gives joyous thanks for his partnership with the church in Philippi. The graciousness and power he has experienced with them gives him every confidence that God will finish God’s work in them to present them blameless on the day of the return of Christ, “having produced the harvest of righteousness” (verse 11). Paul’s “end-time” hope for them, and by extension for all Christians, is for all of them, as God’s people, to “serve God in holiness and righteousness all their days,” a living sign of the Promised One in their midst.

How is the “messianic” harvest of righteousness being cultivated, cared for, and gathered in where you are?

Zechariah’s song identifies John the Baptizer as the foretold messenger of the Lord with a substantially broader mission than fixing the ritual anomalies and the broken spirituality in the priesthood Malachi had identified. A descendent of David was coming who would re-constitute whole people and save them from their enemies so they could worship and serve God in holiness and righteousness all their days. The ministry of the way-shower would prepare the “mighty Savior’s” way by calling for repentance and announcing forgiveness of sins to all, even those in “darkness and the shadow of death.”

 A century or more after the restoration of the city and the temple in Jerusalem, the word of the Lord through the prophet declares the coming of “my messenger” (Malachi, in Hebrew) who would radically purify the temple priesthood. How and where are clergy and lay leaders being purified where you are?

(comments from The General Board of Disciplehip of the UMC)

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