Lectionary Readings for Dec. 7, 2014. Second Advent. Isaiah 40:1-11, Ps 85, 1-2, 8-13, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8
Well, time got away from me last week, but there were some images from the scriptures that have really stuck with me. I'll share them briefly here.
1. I thought of our culture's current obsession with celebrity when I read the story from Mark. People were streaming into the desert to get a glimpse of the weirdly compelling guy in the itchy clothes. John had celebrity status, but what he did with it makes his story different. He turned away from the adulation and pointed toward Jesus as worthy of praise. Then he declared the work of preparation-road building. He wasn't asking for a red carpet to be spread out for his expensively shod soles, he was urging people to join him in picking up shovels to level the road for the real celebrity. A call to action that makes it possible for the prince of peace to come.
2. The psalmist has an incredible way with words. Verse 10 particularly sticks in my mind where God's rule is described. "Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other." I immediately think of the protracted negotiations and diplomacy needed whenever a 'peace' is brokered between nations (or even individuals) who are in dispute. TALK, TALK, TALK...it feels like nothing with ever get done, nothing will get decided. But when kissing happens, the talking stops. Perhaps sometimes we should shut up and kiss. Stop talking and get to doing the right thing because that will eventually lead to peace.
3. The 2 Peter reading contains the famous verses: "...with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you..." This month, the Mennonite Central Committee is working hard to help bring Syrian refugees to Canada. They might be here in mid-December. Once a refugee claim is approved, it still takes 18 months or more for them to actually get to leave the refugee camp. The whole advent concept of time and hopefully waiting for what was promised takes on new meaning read through the lens of a refugee!
4. I can't read Isaiah 40 without the words of the hymn "Comfort, comfort, o my people" running through my head. It speaks to the needs of people feeling overwhelmed with loss. A balm for that grieving place that all of us find ourselves in at sometime in life. It is a balm, but also a promise that eventually we will be done with brokenness. Love this!