Advent 2 – Yr C (12/9/12)

8 Dec

Baruch 5:1-9 or Malachi 3:1-4

Philippians 1:3-11

Luke 3:1-6

 

Canticle 4 or 16

To give light to them that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

Opening Questions

  • What gets in the way of allowing the light in your heart to shine for others?

Appointed Passages

Baruch 5: 1-9

1Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.
2Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;
3for God will show your splendour everywhere under heaven.
4For God will give you evermore the name,
‘Righteous Peace, Godly Glory’.

5Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
look towards the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
at the word of the Holy One,

   rejoicing that God has remembered them.

6For they went out from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
7For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
8The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded Israel at God’s command.
9For God will lead Israel with joy,
in the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

  • Assuming God has the power to change your sorrows and afflictions to beauty, who decides when and how?
  • What is a robe of righteousness (v. 2) and how do you put it on?
  • What is a “Righteous Peace” (v.4)?  Do we have it today?  If not, how do we get it?

Philippians 1: 3-11

3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

  • Can righteousness exist in an individual without a community supporting it?
  • How would you characterize a relationship defined by “holding someone in your heart” (v. 7)?
  • What actions on our part are necessary to produce a “harvest of righteousness” (v.11)?

Luke 3: 1-6

1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

  • How does repentance relate to baptism (v. 3)?
  • If repentence is a step in the process of self-forgiveness, what additionally is required?
  • Does forgiving others require evidence of their repentance?
  • Is salvation an event or a process?  (i.e., are we granted it once and for all; or do we continue to earn it gradually by periodically making mistakes, repenting and seeking forgiveness?)

Comment

In the season of Advent, we think of new beginnings as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  It is both realistic and necessary to acknowledge our humanity and the mistakes we make that shape our view of ourselves.  But an important part of the message John proclaims are the huge benefits that emerge by taking a new direction.

Think about the fresh start available to each of us in simply living the truth of our faith.  The mental boundaries that we impose on ourselves based on life experiences are brought down.  We have a new freedom to enhance the quality of our relationships by infusing a new freshness emerging from the renewed spiritual presence in our hearts.

The phrasing from the gospel of John (chapter 1: 3-5) comes to mind, “What has come into being 4in him was life,* and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  Each of us can enable that same light to beam from our hearts as a beacon to those around us.

So what’s stopping you?  What gets in the way of a simple decision to embrace light?  Our humanity and all the distractions that come with it.  In some sense, we become so preoccupied with our day to day existence that we somehow become blinded to the light available even within ourselves.

My prayer for all of us this season is that we take some time to step away from the frenetic pace of the holidays to contemplate what’s important – our family, friends, community, and most importantly our relationships with all of them.  That we embrace the truth of the Holy presence in our hearts with renewed energy, and that we allow the light of that presence to shine more fully to all those around us.

 

Quotes for Today:

We say we exchange words when we meet. What we exchange is souls.

Minot J. Savage

 

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness, and in human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

 

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.

G. K. Chesterton

 

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