Readings for Second Sunday of Advent, 12/9/12:
Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6
- Malachi is called a ‘minor prophet’ – which just means shorter book, not lesser words.
- Malachi uses a Q & A styles, supplying our question, his/God’s response.
- This section is titled “The coming messenger.” We often of course interpret this as meaning Christ. His hearers probably interpreted it in some more immediate and less immediate ways.
- Refiner’s Fire and Fuller’s Soap – Tools of purification, that God will use with us, as Malachi said he would to those he addressed. A perfecting process. Wesley talked about Christian perfection. In Christ we are made perfect.
- Instead of the usual Psalm, we have this ‘prophecy’ spoken by Zechariah at the event of John’s circumcision, when his mouth is opened, after his silence for doubting God’s promise of a child. In it, he states his son’s purpose: “to be prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”
- The scriptures often have people who've had an experience of God responding in song - particularly a prevalent occurrence in our Advents texts. Have you ever burst in song at God's action in your life? Maybe not, but how do you react? How do you give thanks? Show your wonder?
- Paul writes this around 64 AD, while under house arrest, probably/possibly in Rome, as a thank-you letter for a gift sent from some of the members of the church in Philippi.
- Paul wants to lose all things in order to gain Christ. “I want to know Christ . . .by becoming like him.”
- "I thank my God every time I remember you." - What a thoughtful sentiment! My mom has shared that she thinks this of her children. Do you thank God for the people in your life?
- John the Baptist – A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Reference to Isaiah. Repentance – from the Greek metanoia, literally, after-thought/know, of change of mind after reflection/thought. Interestingly, sometimes this word can have the connotation of “knowing something too late, after the fact.” But in terms of God, we’re not too late – that’s the gift of grace, that we can have a “change of mind” without being too late.
- Sin – from the Greek hamartia, literally, “to miss the mark.” In Greek theatre, this is the word used to describe the fatal character flaw in tragedy, the hubris characteristic that causes the downfall of the tragic hero.
- Forgiveness – from the Greek apheimi, literally, to be from, more specifically, to let pass, to send forth from oneself, to loose oneself from.
- “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Salvation – from the Greek soteria, meaning, safety, keeping save, deliverance, safe return.