December — Christ is coming
This month we begin the journey toward Christmas and the birth of the saviour. Moving through Advent we learn and understand what God requires of us and reflect on our relationship with the living Christ.
Second Sunday of Advent: 6 December
Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6
The Christ is coming. We are going to learn from God, in flesh, what it means to be human and get full clarification of God’s will for our living. So, enter John the Baptist, who calls us back to God, as the writer of Philippians also reminds us: “So that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God”. (Phil 1:10-11)
This Advent what repentance might we make as individuals and communities to prepare the way for Christ to enter anew into our lives? How are we producing a harvest of righteousness that comes through the Christ? What do we need to change in our lives to be better able to greet the coming of Jesus again this New Year?
Third Sunday of Advent: 13 December
Zephaniah 3:14-20, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18
How often have you read Zephaniah? For many of us, it is probably not our first stop when we turn to the Bible. Here in the third week of Advent, we are served up a smorgasbord of prophetic readings. If we are to look for a common theme, maybe it can be found in the question of ‘What do we look forward to from God?’
Are we looking for someone to make right all that is wrong in our lives through power and might? God rarely meets our expectations in the way we predict. Any encounter with God is usually profoundly life shaking and transformative.
Do we have unfinished business in the Kingdom of God? The work of peace and hope have a cost and require great effort, just as Christmas is more than decorations and a nice story.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: 20 December
Micah 5:2-5a, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-45
What must it have been like to be Mary? What must it be like to encounter God in real and tangible ways? And what must it have been like to have had to broach her pregnancy with her family and community, where culture dictated that she should have been taken out and stoned? What must it have been like for her family and community to struggle to accept and come to terms with a member encountering God in such a way?
How do we receive prophets and those who have a radical experience of God in our communities today? How do we listen for them, listen to them and listen to God? How might we experience God more closely, and are we prepared for the ramifications? Encountering God is exhilarating and life changing. It is such good news, but the good news is the way of the Cross. In Advent, we take those first steps in the story of the Christ.
Nativity of the Lord – Proper: 24 & 25 December
Isaiah 62:6-12, Titus 3:4-7, Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20
Unto us a child is born. Prince of Peace. The Son of God. God in flesh. Immanuel — God with us. In the human story, God is radically engaging humanity in a way that will shake our foundations and change the course of history.
We need to get ready. We need to think upon what it might mean for us in his coming, although most of us already know, having heard the story many times before. But that is the point of Advent and Christmas — we need to go back and think about it again.
First Sunday after Christmas Day: 27 December
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Colossians 3:12-17, Luke 2:41-52
Is Christmas but a memory for us? Are we over all the hype and celebration? Like for Mary and Joseph, has Jesus gone missing in our lives? Christmas may be over, but the work of Christmas is laid before us. Let us read Colossians 3:12-17 and begin the hard work of living it into our lives. What a challenge is set before us!
The December 2015 and January 2016 Lectionary Reflections were written by the Rev. Jon Humphries, the Chaplain at Ravenswood School for Girls