Advent can be a tough time. We all just want to think about candy canes, ugly sweaters, children dancing the Nutcracker, eggnog and sweet little Jesus in the manger. But this Sunday we remember Christ’s Second Advent, yet to come. The prophets uniformly call for the world to be transformed, and for all that we know to be overturned for the sake of the Kingdom. This passage says that we will “delight” in the messenger of the covenant; we will like what we hear! But who can endure it? Even if we celebrate the good news of the Kingdom of God, even though Kingdom ways are better than our ways, our ways are comfortable. Being shaken out of them will be tough.
Canticle 16 (Luke 1:68-79)
What does it mean that we have been set free? Is this an invitation to lawlessness? Does it mean physical freedom, that no one can make you a slave? Or is it a spiritual freedom? What does that freedom mean for our lives?
“God promised to show mercy to our fathers.” But sometimes He didn’t. Bad things still happened. What does God’s promise of mercy mean in the face of tragedy and doubt?
What a beautiful image, that “the dawn from on high shall break upon us” as the “tender compassion of our God.”
- What hope wells up in you as you hear this image?
- What will that dawn look like to you?
- Who do you remember with joy in every one of your prayers? What about them brings you so much joy? What hopes do you have for them?
- What in this season do you long for in the compassion of Christ Jesus? Do you miss family and friends? Do you long to see justice done on earth? Do you ache for the Kingdom of God to be made manifest?
- How can your love overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight? What encourages you to love more and more every day?
John the Baptist is such an odd figure for the church. We admire and revere him for his work proclaiming the good news of God in Christ, and for baptizing Jesus in the river Jordan, but if we’re honest, he was a little bit crazy. So crazy that if we met him today, we would be pretty creeped out by him. I mean, doesn’t he sound like one of those guys with the signs that say “The End is Near!”?
But unlike those guys, John was actually right. He prepared the way of the Lord with confidence, and refused to be shaken by his crazy reputation. Sometimes, God calls us to be crazy Christians. Probably not to stand in the road with signs, but definitely to remind the world that it is not behaving in the way God intended. There are mountains and valleys, crooked and rough places. In order for God’s reign to truly be known on earth, these must be made straight and level.
- How can we work to make this a reality in our own place and time?