- Jeremiah 33:14-16
- Psalm 25:1-10
- 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
- Luke 21:25-36
It's Luke's lectionary year again! I love Luke—probably my favorite gospel, but I'm beginning to appreciate Mark, mostly from reading Say to This Mountain straight through and using Binding the Strong Man as a commentary and resource the last couple of Year Bs (or is that Years B?!).
Signs in the skies, the sun and the moon and the stars; excitements on earth, with roaring seas and splashing waves—after all, the Lord of the planets, the moon, and galaxies, mountains, hills and rivers, Creation's Sovereign draws close to us, so let's stand up, look up and take notice! Our redemption and creation's salvation, Righteous Branch of David's root appears in grace, dwelling among us and living as one of us while performing justice and righteousness right here, on earth, in this land, while his righteousness, heaven's holiness, becomes ours!
This amazing hymn is part of my email sig—not that I'm writing many emails these days:
Zion hears the watchmen singing,Of course I'm hearing JS Bach's Cantata 140, Wachet auf, as well as his Schübler-Chorale version; Paul Manz wrote at least two wonderful settings, so right now in my imagination I'm playing all of those on an organ of my dreams—possibly Haarlem's St. Bavo, or maybe a newer instrument?!
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessed One, God’s own beloved Son:
Alleluia! We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.
–Philipp Nicolai, 1597
Originally I'd planned to reflect on last Sunday's pericopes, but on Sunday Pastor George S. Johnson gave me a copy of his book, Beyond Guilt: Christian Response to Suffering and inscribed it:
Isaiah 58:10-11That may be one of Pastor George's default inscriptions, but whatever, it exactly fits where I am right now and it goes perfectly with this Advent 1's RCL, too, but I don't need to belabor the obvious. These passages remind me of days bygone when I sometimes sort of hung out with a group that included some anti-Lordites. I was born opinionated and besides, I'm an ENFJ without a single shy or reticent cell in my body, which can make me seem assertive, plus I've been known to inform people "I crave an audience like an addict craves cocaine." Nonetheless, I did my level best calmly to try explaining to the group nothing substitutes for "Lord"—it's the heavy, solid and substantial theological and political word as well as forming continuity between the Hebrew Bible and the New Covenant scriptures. So what have we here, for the first Sunday of a new liturgical year? Ownership, mastery, presence, authorship and authority; power to designate, to control and to delegate. A unique relationship to creation and to creation's stewards (us). This Lord has formed us, has bought us back, and literally owns us. We answer to this Lord, to this One we soon will meet again, strong in grace and victorious in truth, the apparently power-less newborn infant in the Judean manger! In faith and in baptism this Lord's biography - from cradle to cross to grave to Easter dawn - becomes our life story. Now what?
And if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like springs of living waters that never fail.