Readings: Lectionary Year C, 1st Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16 God’s promised saviour will be a descendant of David.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 Paul prays for the Thessalonians to grow in faith.
Luke 21:25-36 Despite signs, Christ’s return will be unexpected. Be prepared.
Jesse Tree in St. Mary’s church, Brampton, by Kempe & Company, 1917.
This is a ‘family tree’ linking Jesse or David to Jesus via kings and prophets. For you, is Jesus about “the great & the good”, or everyone, famous or not?
Some thoughts on the readings
• Today begins a new lectionary year, and the focus moves from Mark’s Gospel to Luke’s. Luke, like Matthew, uses Mark’s account as a basis, then adds more material – some shared with Matthew, some Luke’s own.
• In many parables and other sayings, Jesus identifies himself as Jeremiah’s ‘Branch of David’ who will come to judge and redeem God’s people.
• The Luke passage is part of the so-called “Little Apocalypse” which is in all the synoptic Gospels (see Matthew 24-25, Mark 13). Jesus teaches about the ‘second coming’, and references Daniel 7:13.
• Paul can sometimes appear stern and critical, but his words to the Thessalonians reveal a great personal warmth and care, which he wants them (and all Christians) to share with one another, to build each other up.
Suggestions for further Bible reading
Isaiah 11:1-5 The “shoot” and “branch” from the “stock of Jesse” (father of David) who will come to judge righteously by “the spirit of the Lord”.
Matthew 1:1-16 The Gospel begins by identifying Jesus as “son of David” and then traces his family tree back to Abraham (Luke 3:23-38 goes further).
2 Peter 3:8-10 A reminder that God’s timescales are not the same as human ones, so not to be impatient, nor to lose sight of the eventual judgement.
Do any other Bible passages come to mind when you read today’s readings?
Points for Prayer
• Give thanks that out of love for humanity God was prepared to become human – that in the baby of Bethlehem we see our maker face to face.
• Pray for the special church services and events over the next 3 weeks, and for those who are running them: ask God that the practical aspects will go smoothly. Pray that people will come who don’t normally attend church, and will engage with the truth of God incarnate.
• As the weather worsens, pray for everyone sleeping rough and all the agencies who try to help them. Pray that resources will be available: food, clothing, accommodation, and above all, compassion and kindness.
Points for Action
• Set aside a short time each day, maybe just 5 minutes among the busy-ness, to think quietly about Advent as a season of waiting for our Lord to arrive.
• When almost no “Christmas” merchandise bears any relationship to the Biblical story, take time to look for and buy the few things which do.