Second Sunday in Advent

Second Sunday of Advent
December 5, 2010: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

Isaiah 11:1-10:
1 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Matthew 3:1-12: “In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” 4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 ‘I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing-fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

COMMENT: “On that day…” This phrase, which begins the last verse of the passage in Isaiah, caught my attention. These three words I believe convey the meaning of what Advent is all about, hope! Hope assists us when we plan weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties. Hope’s sister Anticipation keeps our energies focused so our plans will be successful. They paint grand and glorious mental pictures, in minute detail of what will occur “On that day.” When the day arrives, sisters Hope and Anticipation step aside and Aunt Awareness tells us to wear comfortable shoes. At the end of the day, before we lay our weary bodies down to rest, Aunt Memory reminds us that digital cameras are great inventions.

Isaiah gives the description of the Messiah, as only he can, with ecstatic language that clearly ignites hope. Who wouldn’t want to see and experience life with such a person?

Matthew also provides a vivid scene of the arrival of John, the Baptizer. John, a man wearing camel hair tunic, standing in a river shouting, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near! Repentance is turning away from previous negative attitudes and behaviors that fall short of God’s highest desires for us. Many came to John and heard, believed, confessed their sins (negative attitudes and behaviors) and were baptized. Others responded to him as if John was one of those people we call crazy standing on street corners in center city, with open Bibles calling or holding placards boldly inscribed with the words, Repent!”

John also cried out, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” Advent is also a season of preparation, ending on Christmas Day. The list is endless of those things we do to prepare to celebrate Christmas. The question is what is our expectation, our hope while we prepare? What would happen to our souls if we prayed, “Lord give me the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord?” I propose we will be transformed into the image of our Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Like him, “We won't judge by appearances nor decide on the basis of hearsay. We will judge the needy by what is right and render decisions on earth's poor with justice…” How will our world look? We will build righteousness and faithfulness in the land. The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough and a little child will tend them…The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens, the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent…The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive…”

“On that day…”
Advent Blessings,
Rev. Julia
© December 1, 2010

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