Skip to main content

Lectionary Notes for Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

Readings for Fourth Sunday of Advent, 12/23/12:
Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:46b-55, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45

Micah 5:2-5a:
  • “But you, O Bethlehem,” – Bethlehem is described as a little town (like the hymn!), making it special that a ruler would come from such a small place.
  • Image of a woman in labor – this is a common Advent image, for obvious reasons of the expectation of the Christ-child, but also for other reasons. Pregnancy is indeed a time of expectation, but there is a sense of inevitability too. It’s not like expecting the unknown, wondering about an unsure future. Unless something goes tragically wrong, the result is a new child. Images of birth pangs are also common in biblical metaphors (like when Jesus speaks of signs of the times) to describe a time of distress/pain/confusion. But again, despite this pain, a new life follows.
  • “And they shall live secure” – What does that mean? Today ‘security’ is a word we think about a great deal. There’s the financial security that we all seek that feels too hard to get in this economy – job security. There’s national security – in the midst of the war on terror, we walk a fine line between security/safety and taking away of human/constitutional rights. What’s the difference between that kind of security and the kind described here?
  • “And he shall be the one of peace.” That’s just such a breath-taking, beautiful image. Our heart’s desire.

Luke 1:46b-55:
  • “magnifies” – from the Greek megalunei, meaning, “to make great, to magnify, to exaggerate.” When we use a magnifying glass, we do it so the image is larger, easier to see, but also so we can see all the fine details of an image.
  • Mary thanks God for God’s ability to switch the usual order of things, to make things opposite of how they usually are: the powerful are brought down, the lowly are lifted. The hungry are filled, the rich go away empty-handed. Ties in with Jesus’ teaching emphasis on the first being last, last being first. A change of the whole existing social order, everything turned upside-down and inside-out.
  • Mary signifies that she believes the child she is carrying to be the fulfillment after a long time of a promise made by God to Abraham and his descendants  Imagine the patience! We seem to want God to fulfill promises a lot more quickly – preferably within our own lifetime! What if we could know that God’s promises would reach to our great-great-great-great grandchildren? Would that satisfy us?

Hebrews 10:5-10:
  • Preceding this passage, the author is talking about how animal sacrifices made in the temple fail to fully atone for sins, since they must be repeated year after year, thus not really freeing people from the guilt they experience. Christ has come to be the one sacrifice we need, the only thing strong enough to really take away our sins, the author argues.
  • Vs. 6 & 7 draw on language similar to Psalm 51, the one that contains the “Create in me a clean heart” verses, a favorite Psalm for those who feel guilt and seek forgiveness and repentance.

Luke 1:39-45:
  • Mary has just been visited by the angle Gabriel and accepted the news that she is carrying “the Son of the Most High.” She goes to be with her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also, even in her old age, carrying a child, John the Baptist.
  • “Blessed are you” – The Greek word for blessed is eulogemene, root words meaning good and word. The same as the root of our word “eulogy”, good-speaking about somebody. To be spoken well-of, to be praised, to be blessed.
  • “And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” What makes Elizabeth ask this? Does she feel unworthy of this visit from Mary and the unborn Christ-child?
  • “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” These are key words that speak to us today! God has spoken many things to us, many to me at least. But in doubt I wonder if God’s promises for me are as good as expected. Our blessing comes in our belief, our trust, our faith.


Popular posts from this blog

Sermon for Second Sunday in Advent, "Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright," Isaiah 11:1-10, Mark 13:24-37

Sermon 12/3/17 Mark 13:24-37, Isaiah 11:1-10 Peace: All Is Calm, All Is Bright             “Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. Round yon’ virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep in heavenly peace.”             This week, I read news stories about North Korea testing a missile that perhaps could reach across the whole of the United States.             This week, I spoke with a colleague in ministry who had, like all churches in our conference, received from our church insurance company information about how to respond in an active shooter situation. She was trying to figure out how to respond to anxious parishioners and yet not get caught up in spending all of their ministry time on creating safety plans.             This week, we’ve continued to hear stories from people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment, as the actions, sometimes over decades, of men in positions of power have been

Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent, "Hope: A Thrill of Hope," Mark 1:1-8

Sermon 11/26/17 Mark 1:1-8 Hope: A Thrill of Hope             Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Is the glass of life half empty, or half full? My mom and I have gone back and forth about this a bit over the years. She’s wildly optimistic about most things, and sometimes I would say her optimism, her hopefulness borders on the irrational. If the weather forecast says there’s a 70% chance of a snowstorm coming, my mom will focus very seriously on that 30% chance that it is going to be a nice day after all. I, meanwhile, will begin adjusting my travel plans and making a backup plan for the day. My mom says I’m a pessimist, but I would argue that I’m simply a realist , trying to prepare for the thing that is most likely to happen, whether I like that thing or not. My mom, however, says she doesn’t want to be disappointed twice, both by thinking something bad is going to happen, and then by having the bad thing actually happen. She’d rather be hopeful, and enjoy her state of

Sermon, "Serve Jesus," Mark 10:35-45

Sermon 10/28/18 Mark 10:35-45 Serve Jesus Today, we’re concluding our series looking at the components that will make up our intentional discipleship plan, the method, the approach we’re going to use as we try to focus on our purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our hope is that we will help folks to Meet Jesus, Follow Jesus, and Serve Jesus as we journey on the path of discipleship. We talked about how we want to work to bring folks into Jesus’ presence to meet him, and how we will do the hard work of choosing to follow Jesus, even when there are sometimes many paths we’re tempted to choose. Today, we think about how we continue to grow in the life of faith. As followers of Jesus, we commit to serving him, and the best way we’ve found to serve Jesus is in serving one another, serving our neighbor. Jesus always links together loving God and loving neighbor. We demonstrate our love of God and our service to Christ when we work to