Sunday, December 08, 2013

Advent Scriptures

I lead in a service that reads the lectionary each Sunday. I am always amazed at the way it weaves together Scripture from the Psalms, OT, Epistles, and Gospels each week in keeping with the Christian season. And it does so in a way that gets through most of Scripture every three years.

The Scriptures for the four Sundays before Christmas, Advent, are brilliant. They weave together readings that have to do with Christ's first coming with readings relating to his second.   Look at the sequences this year (Year A):

Week 1 (December 1)
1. Psalm 122 (going up to Jerusalem to the house of the Lord)
2. Isaiah 2:1-5 (flocking to the future holy mountain)
3. Romans 13:11-14 (Waking up from sleep)
4. Matthew 24:36-44 (not knowing the time of Christ's return)

Notice how the Scriptures begin to get us ready for Jesus' coming. We are going up to the temple. We are waking up from sleep. We are looking forward to the time when Christ will return to his holy mountain, although we do not know the day or the hour.

Week 2 (December 8, today)
1. Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 (about the king taking care of the poor)
2. Isaiah 11:1-10 (the coming righteous Branch passage)
3. Romans 15:4-13 (about good news for the Gentiles)
4. Matthew 3:1-12 (John the Baptist preparing the way)

John the Baptist prepared the way of Jesus' ministry, a ministry in which the king of kings brought good news to the poor, just like the kings of old. Jesus was the righteous Branch that was promised, the one who eventually would bring light to the nations.

Week 3 (December 15)
1. Isaiah 35:1-10 (the return to Zion)
2. Luke 1:47-55 (the Magnificat)
3. James 5:7-10 (patience until the Lord's return)
4. Matthew 11:2-11 (signs that Jesus is the Messiah)

We are on the holy highway back to Zion. We are patiently waiting for him to come, looking for the signs of his kingdom. Meanwhile, we hear Mary's song as she celebrates what God is already doing within her.

Week 4 (December 22)
1. Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (restore us, O Lord)
2. Isaiah 7:10-16 (virgin birth passage)
3. Romans 1:1-7 (about Jesus the Son of David)
4. Matthew 1:18-25 (Joseph's dream about Jesus)

Joseph was promised that Mary would give birth to the Messiah. Isaiah 7 saw it long before though Spirit eyes. Paul tells of the accomplishment in Romans. Lord, please restore us.


Susan Moore said...

Wow, we follow the same readings. Maybe a verse or two more or less here or there, otherwise the same. Except in week three instead of Luke we are reading Psalm 146:6-10. We do a three year cycle, too, perhaps the same one?
I love Isaiah 11:1-10 that we read today. At times in my chaotic youth I have asked God what it will be like when the lion lays down with the lamb, and at times over the course of my life He has shown me.
It should come as no surprise then, that Mark 16:15-18 states that we will pick up snakes with our hands, when Isaiah states, "The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain..." For the kingdom of God is right here right now. Yet but for the residual vapor trail of fallenness and sin...

Susan Moore said...

Dr. Schenck,
Just listened to todays CWC's sermon online (Yay, it posted already!!).
I pray that one day I'll teach when I write as well as they teach when they speak.
Some days I feel like they were there when I was healed, and feel what I felt, and subsequently know what I know about God. And have walked my way since then, in wonderment of God and in dismay at the lack of faith in His 'believers'. Today is one of those days. I have tears streaming down my face.
God bless them all.

Ken Schenck said...