27 November 2022
And so the Lectionary Cycle begins again. This is always an exciting and moving time, as we prepare ourselves for the journey ahead, and begin to open our hearts to a new experience of transformation. Year A is, in a sense, a double beginning, because it starts not just a new year, but also the start of the three year cycle as well.
As is usual for this time of year, the Lectionary begins with our hope in Christ, the coming of God’s reign in Christ, and the challenge for us to live from this hope, remembering God’s comings in the past, recognising God’s comings now, and awaiting God’s comings into our future. Just this one day, if embraced mindfully and wholeheartedly, can change us forever.
This week, let’s celebrate and open ourselves to the power of God’s gift of hope in Christ.
Isaiah 2:1-5: A prophecy of the days when all people will seek to learn God’s ways, and God will teach them justice and peace; and an invitation to walk in God’s light.
Psalm 122: A song of celebration for Jerusalem, the place of worship, the place where God’s people are taught and led by God, and a place for which the Psalmist prays prosperity and peace.
Romans 13:11-14: Believing in the soon coming of God’s day of salvation, Paul encourages the believers to live lives of morality, peace and modesty.
Matthew 24:36-44: Because we do not know the day or time when Christ will come, Jesus encourages the believers to be ready at all times.
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
The first Sunday of Advent always leads us to reflect on Christ’s Second Coming, which is both problematic and exciting. The problem lies in how we deal with the issue of the Second Coming – especially with the ongoing tendency to try and predict times and dates, and with the possibility that it creates a “pie-in-the-sky” theology for our people. The readings offer us another possibility, though – and this is where the excitement lies. In every reading, the promise of Christ’s coming is related back to how we live now – which is as it should be. Isaiah and Paul both invite us into a life lived in God’s light – a life of peace, justice and morality. The Psalmist encourages us to pray for peace, and to continue to gather for worship where God’s presence and ‘judgment’ are encountered. Finally , Jesus, encourages us to live in ‘readiness’ – always aware that Christ’s coming is immanent, and avoiding the temptation (unlike those in Noah’s day) of growing absorbed in self-interest and personal pleasure (what Paul refers to as ‘wild parties’).
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: At it’s heart, this week in the Lectionary is about hope, and living up to a higher standard. If this world is all we have, we can “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. But, if we truly have hope in Christ, in the coming of life, and of the day when God’s reign is the norm, not the exception, in our world, we must live according to this hope now. We must live as people who believe enough in God’s coming reign that we will begin to practice it’s values and principles now. This means we commit ourselves to integrity, justice and peace, and invite others into this way of life – embracing Isaiah’s image of the nations streaming to God’s mountain.This means we cannot accept things as they are just because “it’s just the way it is”. Rather, we commit ourselves to working to create the world of which we dream. This means we live in peace, so far as we can, with all people. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of ethics and morality. We embrace a life of gentle modesty, not in the unfortunately limited sense in which that word is usually used – of dressing to cover up our bodies out of a fear of our sexuality – but in the sense that we reject ostentatious displays of wealth, wild and excessive self-pleasuring events and exercises, and over-the-top attention-seeking ploys. Rather we seek to demonstrate the kind of life that enriches the world and all creatures who live in it.
LOCAL APPLICATION: In too many ways the life of Christians and their churches simply reflects the values and beliefs of the societies around us. To look at us you wouldn’t know that we wait for a different world, and hold out the hope of peace and justice. If we really lived our faith in the coming of Christ, we would seek to express hope in all our interactions, we would invite others into a hope-filled way of living, and we would live the kind of life that demonstrates what we believe the world will one day be. This means we must embrace a life of simple, daily justice – reducing our personal carbon footprints through modesty and simplicity; bringing peace through the practices of forgiveness, negotiation and listening; seeking justice through serving those in need and challenging injustice wherever we find it in our communities. In addition we need to develop the habit of readiness – looking for every coming of Christ into our lives and world, and noticing and proclaiming the presence of Christ whenever we can. If we can do this, we become the fulfilment of the prophecies in this week’s readings. In what way can you seek to be a quiet, but prophetic community through this Advent season?
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
An Incredible Hope
There’s A Light Upon The Mountain
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hear Our Praises (Link to YouTube video)
Hosanna (Link to YouTube video)
Prepare The Way (Link to YouTube video)
A Foretaste Of The Heavenly Banquet
Christ Is Coming