Readings for Second Sunday of Advent, 12/4/11:
Isaiah 40:1-11, Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8
- "Comfort, O comfort my people" - ah, what gorgeous words. This God is a God who longs to comfort us, even when we wander and stray.
- This text and our text from Mark both mention the wilderness, or desert. What happens in the Bible in the wilderness? Think Israelites. Think Jesus' temptation. Lots of deep spiritual transformation happens in the wilderness.
- Where's your wilderness? What's been a desert place in your life?
- "Here is your God!" That's the good news that Isaiah cries in this text: God is here, is present and real in your lives.
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
- "[God] will speak peace to his people." What does speaking peace sound like? How would you speak peace to someone?
- "for those who fear [God]" - do you fear God? We're instructed over and over again in the scriptures not to be afraid. What does it mean, then, to fear God or to be God-fearing? I interpret it to mean we're to have an awe of God that is an awe we give only to God.
- Some good imagery in v. 10: Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other." Great images. Love and faithfulness bound together. More intriguingly, to me, righteousness and peace bound together. If only!
2 Peter 3:8-15a:
- The author here is writing in response to concerns, it seems, about the slowly-coming day of Christ's return. They are ready and waiting for Christ to come again. So where is he already? The author talks about how God's time and our time is different. This is always a good reminder!
- "regard the patience of our Lord as salvation." The author argues that the longer it takes for Christ to return, the more chance people have of finding salvation - God, he argues, doesn't want anyone to perish, but wants all to come to repentance. I kind of like his way of looking at things!
- The opening of Mark's gospel wastes no time with those birth-of-Jesus stories we like to hear so much about this time of year. Mark gets to the point: "The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Sometimes I prefer Mark's method! He seems to be saying, "Let's get right to the good stuff."
- Here's another wilderness passage - notice the similar language in this text and in Isaiah. John is for Jesus' time a modern-day Isaiah, announcing the same message: "God is here! Right here among you!"
- John sees himself as facilitating Jesus' ministry - preparing people for it. His role is so important, isn't it? Do you know of people who play this kind of supporting role in ministry today?