Psalm 80:1-17, 17-19
By Lanni Lantto
Isaiah was a prophet in times of kings. In the lectionary passage, God sends him to Ahaz, a king defending his earthy kingdom, to say that God will send a sign: a young child named Immanuel meaning God is with us. This child, from a very young age, will know how to, “refuse the evil and choose the good.” For Ahaz, who may have felt powerless in his situation, this message was meant to give him hope for a time of peace and restoration.
Rembrandt, Dream of Joseph, 1645, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin
By Ken Sehested
consigned to the margins
of Incarnation narrative.
now shield the shame
of sagging face, drooping, disgraced.
Chiseled lines prematurely sculpting
age in youthful countenance.
Thoughts of Mary smudge the heart
as tears smear the face.
Mary. Beloved. Betrothed. Betrayed?
Mary. With child. Whose? How, and why?
Joseph, companion in confusion
over God’s intention.
No multi-colored coat for you as for
your scoundrel namesake of old.
But who dares answer, much less complain? Continue reading
Springtime by Alex Kladnik, Creative Commons
Seeking the True Joy of Advent
Matthew 11: 2-11
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at?” Matt 11:7
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus, it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
by Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson
Amid the shadowed darkness of impending winter, our Advent lection from Isaiah envisions springtime joy. We might at first wonder, “What does Isaiah’s imagery have to do with the celebration of the birth of Jesus?” This questions leads to another query: What exactly are we hoping for with the coming of the one we call “messiah” and “lord”? Or as John the Baptist puts it in this week’s gospel, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Matt 11:3) Continue reading
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.
Sacred Earth Camp at NEB hearings
By Zoë Tobin Peterson
When I first read this passage my immediate thought was; what holy mountain is Isaiah referring to? It seems like a fairly important thing to know given that he so clearly tells us that nothing will be hurt if destroyed on it. Why has he not told us the name? Continue reading
By Will O’Brien
For several years, the Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia has offered an annual Advent program called “Peace on Earth and The Politics of Christmas” Alternative Seminary coordinator and frequent contributor to the Radical Discipleship blog Will O’Brien leads the discussion on how we reclaim the domesticated biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth with their powerful message of challenge to worldly powers. Folks in the Philadelphia area are encouraged to join this year’s program on Saturday, December 7. You can also spread the word via the Facebook page.
Can we liberate Christmas from its cultural captivity and rediscover the truly prophetic story that speaks to the crises of our world today? Continue reading
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:1-3)
By Laurel Dykstra
It is hard to be hopeful in the Anthropocene, in the days when the destructive human impact on climate, individuals and communities, creatures, waterways and ecosystems is unprecedented. The lectionary passages this week have a fierce and compelling urgency but they seem far from the Advent theme of hope and further still from this lectionary project’s focus on Creation. Just what should we be awake to? Why the urban emphasis the focus on judgment?