Friday, November 28, 2014

Lectionary Notes for Advent 1, Year B

Readings for First Sunday of Advent, 11/30/14:
Isaiah 64:1-9, Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, Mark 13:24-37

Isaiah 64:1-9:
  • "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence" - Do you ever get so frustrated with the way of the world that you want to call on God to break into the scene and rile things up? I don't blame Isaiah's call. Its just that God hardly ever comes in the ways we're expecting!
  • Isaiah realizes this too, God's unexpected ways: "when you did awesome deeds that we did not expect" he says in v. 3 - what do you expect from God? Do you expect the unexpected?
  • "consider, we are all your people." Isaiah is pleading a case here. He realizes people haven't done much for God that would make someone want to stick around and continue being neglected. But remember, Isaiah reminds God, we're yours! I think God does remember.
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19:
  • "let your face shine, that we may be saved." I like this - God's shining face can save us. twice emphasized. Think about Moses' face shining after he'd visited with God on the mountain - the brilliance and glory of being in God's presence.
  • "how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?" Is God ever angry with our prayers? Probably, when they are so self-centered and calling on God to bring harm to those we deem enemies. But if we interpret God not doing what we ask for as God's anger, I think we've got it wrong...
  • "you have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure." Again, what beautiful imagery - very poetic. I'm not sure I agree with the theology expressed - but good writing! :)
1 Corinthians 1:3-9:
  • V. 9 - "called into the fellowship" - Paul means the fellowship of saints, according to verse 2 of this chapter. You are called to be a saint - believe it! That's you and me, called to be saints. Of course, Paul was talking about the Corinthians, but we can take it for ourselves too. We probably all have a short list of folks we think of as "saints" or at least "saintly". What makes you think of them that way? How can you be more like them?
  • "you have been enriched in him" - I like this phrasing. Enriched by knowing Jesus.
  • These are the opening words to the Corinthians - you can see how much Paul is trying to build them up, affirm their faith, get them to stay committed. I think we all need someone who can and will do that for us. And we can do that for someone else too - build them up.
Mark 13:24-37:
  • Advent always begins with surprising "end times" texts that probably catch parishioners off-guard, who are ready to sing Christmas carols. How do we refocus them and us? This text is about time, and expectations and waiting. So is Advent. What we do while we wait is important. Whether or not we live like something exciting is going to happen in our world by God is important.
  • For me, descriptions of Christ's second coming are not very important in the details. But what Jesus reminds us of is that he does come again. I think he comes more than once, always coming in unexpected ways. I know the passages refers to "the big one", the big final return, but I like to think we can think about Jesus returning frequently to our lives. And we're so often unprepared.
  • "you do not know when the master of the house will come" Another passage talking about end times, if that's only as far as you are wanting to look. Better to think of it this way: so often in my life I am putting things off - procrastinating - not so much about day to day things, like sermon-writing :), etc., but about big things: I will start giving more ... when I'm out of debt. I will take risks for God .... after I get my DMin. I will speak out about what I really believe .... after I'm ordained elder. But the day or hour is unknown, and will arrive unexpectedly. I should stop acting like I have something to wait for before I get to work the way God wants me to. The time is NOW.

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