THIS MORNING WE LIT THE CANDLE OF “JOY”.........A COMMODITY OUR ANXIOUS AND TROUBLED WORLD DESPERATELY NEEDS.
THE READINGS THIS MORNING FROM ISAIAH AND MATTHEW CONTAIN WORDS AND IMAGES THAT GIVE US REASON TO BE JOYFUL.
ISAIAH FORESEES A WORLD OF PEACE, BEAUTY, AND PLENTY WHERE GOD WALKS WITH US AND JUSTICE REIGNS FOR ALL. WE OFTEN DREAM OF SUCH A WORLD, WE PRAY FOR SUCH A WORLD, WE WORK FOR SUCH A WORLD, WE HOPE FOR SUCH A WORLD.
AS WE READ FROM ISAIAH 35 VS 1-10 ENJOY THE HOPEFUL IMAGES THAT HE SHARES WITH US...... AND CONSIDER SOME SMALL WAY EACH OF US MIGHT CONTRIBUTE TO THE DREAM AT THIS ADVENT TIME OF PEACE, HOPE, JOY AND LOVE.....
The Return of the Redeemed to Zion
35 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
LET US JOIN IN SINGING FROM VOICES UNITED #899 “ MY SOUL GIVES GLORY TO MY GOD”
IN THE GOSPEL READING FROM MATTHEW WE HEAR A HOPEFUL CRY FROM AN IMPRISONED JOHN THE BAPTIST WONDERING IF THIS MAN JESUS COULD BE “THE PROMISED ONE”...IS IT TIME TO BE JOYFUL??
“ARE YOU THE ONE WHO IS TO COME, OR SHOULD WE EXPECT SOMEONE ELSE?”
JESUS ANSWER IS INTERESTING AS IT CHALLENGES JOHN... ..AND ALL OF US... TO SEE AND HEAR FOR YOURSELF...YOU DECIDE!
LET US HEAR HOW JESUS REPLIES AS WE READ FROM MATTHEW 11 V,S 2 TO 11
Messengers from John the Baptist
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus Praises John the Baptist
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Listen to what the Spirit is saying to all of us.
Thanks be to God.