Sunday, December 15, 2013: “Today’s Scripture Readings”


ADVENT – 3rd

> “Rejoice” Sunday

> Rejoice in the Lord for he is near!

> Older churches use Rose for the hangings.

> The use of blue hangings was derived from the English.



A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (35:1-10)

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. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


> This verse is more like the second Isaiah.

> Takes place around 701 BCE.

> Israel was under siege by the Syrians, but they failed.

> Israel was delivered by God.

> Image of the great end of time.

> God will put all things in harmony.



Psalm (146:4-9)


4   Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *

     whose hope is in the Lord their God;

5  Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *

     who keeps his promise for ever;

6  Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *

     and food to those who hunger.

7  The Lord sets the prisoners free;

     the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *

     the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

8  The Lord loves the righteous;

     the Lord cares for the stranger; *

     he sustains the orphan and widow,

     but frustrates the way of the wicked.

9  The Lord shall reign for ever, *

     your God, O Zion, throughout all generations. Hallelujah!


> First of the five “Hallelujah” psalms.

> God is the creator of all and brings justice to all of his creation.

> Five actions of God are outlined.

> Concluding acclamation:  Song of praise of God for the new creation. 



A Reading from the Book of James (5:7-10)


Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient.  Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.


> Encourages the people to be strong and patient until the coming of the Lord.

> The coming is near!

> New Testament tradition of having the prophets suffer.



The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (11:2-11)


When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see?  Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”


> When John was arrested is when Jesus began is own ministry.

> King Herod put John to death.

> This is why the Jews think that Herod’s army was defeated.

> Some of the information was learned from first century historian, Josephus.

> Not sure what Matthew was emphasizing with John in prison.

> Similar images found in Isaiah 35 and 61.

> Jesus may be joking around  – John was a large, unkempt man – “You went to look at his fine robes!”

> Final Jesus testimony about John.