The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

Introductions to the readings for Advent  II, 2015

Our Hebrew Scriptures passage for today comes to us from the Book of Malachi, Chapter 3, verses 1-4 “A refiner’s fire and a launderer’s soap”

 The voice of the prophet Malachi brings a word from God to a people whose lack of disrespect for their faith traditions and whose spiritual laziness has become problematic.  To Malachi’s way of thinking, the time was ripe for the people to change their ways.  

He tells them this: The messenger God is sending the people, is one who will bring a new day and a restoration of right relationships to the last and the least in the community.  He then goes one step further comparing how this special messenger’s coming will work for good in the same way as fire refines and soap cleanses. 

 What might such a messenger look like for our time and how might we experience that transformation?

 “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.  The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight-indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.  But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

 For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap’ he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.  Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

 Our responsive hymn is found at VU#901 “Blest Be the God of Israel”

 Our gospel reading for today comes to us from Luke, Chapter three, verses 1-6 “A voice is calling in the desert.  The proclamation of John, the Baptist.”

 The passage begins with an historical reference to the current context and political climate of the time period as John finds his prophetic voice.

 Relying on his listeners’ understanding of their ancient faith tradition, Luke has John the Baptist quoting from the prophet, Isaiah about a new leader to come who will bring a level playing field to situations of injustice.

       This particular Advent season, consider how might you hear John, the Baptist’s proclamation for a ministry of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

      To what might you hear God be calling you as regards a ‘change of thinking’ or of ‘going beyond the mind you already have’ as regards the elusive peace we long for in our time?  From who might you be surprised to hear the bringing such a word of transformation?

      “In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea (ih-too-ree-ah) and Trachonitis (track-O-night-is) and Lysanias (Lie-sin-eas) of Abilene, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. 

   He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:   ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.    Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

        Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church. 

Thanks be to God.