Introduction to the readings for Advent Three, Joy, December 14, 2014
Today’s scriptures blend together overlapping images of great expectation and joy holding them against the light of the reality of daily life.
The readings call us to REJOICE-that is, to affirm our confidence in God’s abundant presence and to dream of what might be, even when life is full of challenge and difficulty!
In our first reading from Isaiah, the Jewish people have returned to Jerusalem from exile to rebuild their temple and their lives. Beset by drought, locusts, and conflict their dreams of restoration are blocked. Here, Isaiah proclaims the good news of deliverance and blessing, encouraging his listeners to hold fast to their dreams for new beginnings.
Think on what you might be dreaming of for yourself, for your family, for your church, and for your world as we hear Gods Word through the prophet, Isaiah this morning:
A Reading from Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 61: 1-4; 8-11 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
Words of introduction to the Psalm: This is a community lament thought to be a travelers’ prayer sung as pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem to remember and to celebrate all God did in the past and all God does continually. It’s another one of those both/and readings; a prayer about being and becoming at the same time; a psalm of people praying together that God will restore God’s people to good fortune and new life and the promise that seeds planted in sorrow will yield a harvest of joy.
+Responsive Reading: Psalm 126 and Refrain 1 (VU p. 850)
Words of Introduction to the gospel: This morning we come in contact once again with John, the Baptist, this time through the lens of the gospel according to John. Here, John offers his witness to the coming of Jesus whom he names Son of God, the LIGHT about to be born into a shadowed world.
Reading from the Gospel according to the first chapter of John, verses 6-8; 19-28 John testified to the light.
Response: Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.
(the words and thoughts in this introduction take their impetus from ‘Breaking Through’, The Whole People of God, Unit III; December 1, 1996-January 12, 1997 and from Seasons of the Spirit, SeasonsFUSION Advent Christmas Epiphany 2011-2012 Copyright Wood Lake Publishing Inc. 2011)