This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on February 5th, 2017.
How many of us would love to have a congregation that God described as a people who “seek me and delight to know my ways…they delight to draw near to God.” (Isaiah 58:2)? This congregation would certainly fill the pews and sing, joyously, week in and week out. They would be attentive listeners to our sermons, and they would pray diligently during the times of communal prayer. It would be easy to show up every week with a fresh word to tell these people because they would surely deposit praise upon praise on us following each service. Isaiah’s congregation has returned from exile and resides once again in Jerusalem – this is a people happy to worship. However, even the best of churches have those people who continually wonder why they’re doing all of this wonderful worship and yet God is not heaping praise and reward on them. This is not to say that these churches are selfish and self-righteous, but rather that we have been formed into people who expect our great efforts to be rewarded in ways congruent with our own expectations. If I put in a hard day’s work, I would expect a payment equal to that work. Worship, though, is not about us. At least it is not about performing in order that I may receive some due payment from God. This is what God speaks to the people in Jerusalem through the mouth of Isaiah. This is what God is speaking to us today.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on December 6, 2015.
Each year after Thanksgiving, my family and I start our preparations for the season of Christmas. We have our “traditions” if you will. Naturally we start with the tree, which is decorated with a menagerie of ornaments collected over the last 30 years: the felt Snoopy I made in kindergarten, the ornament we bought at Disney World in 2002, paper chains made by our kids several years ago, and ornaments with baby photos of each child from their most cherub-like years.
We play Christmas music, drink our only cup of eggnog for the entire season, and as a family we hang our memories on the tree. This is how we begin the preparations for Christmas.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 1, 2013.
Christian hope is our confidence that God is the God of the future as well as the past and present. He is the One who WAS and IS and IS TO COME. He is both Alpha and Omega. That hope grows out of the consistent biblical message that God is working out his loving purposes in human history for all of creation. The events of history, despite human pride and violence, cannot frustrate those plans. In God’s own time and in God’s own way the reign of God will be extended to the entire creation. Jesus reaffirmed this hope as an essential part of his message about the dawning of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17).
The certainty of the consummation of the age to come is not questioned in Jesus’ teaching and ministry. The acts of power he performs — healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, even raising the dead – foreshadow the coming day when all who know him live forever in wholeness, joy, and peace in the presence of God on earth (Revelation 21:3-5). In fact, this consistent affirmation of hope became part of ancient Christian creeds: “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”