Sunday, December 14, 2014: “Today’s Scripture Readings”


A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (61:1-4, 8-11)


The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.


> This refers to the old “rejoice” season.

> Some practices have rose colored vestments. 

> Shifting towards Christmas focus.

> Third part of Isaiah — Judah back from exile to struggles and poverty.

> Encourages the Israelites that God is coming to save us.

> Three actions of “they” by their God-given strength.

> The rest of the world will see that God has blessed them.

> The events take place around 500 BCE.



Psalm 126


1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, *

   then were we like those who dream.

2  Then was our mouth filled with laughter, *

    and our tongue with shouts of joy.

3  Then they said among the nations, *

    “The Lord has done great things for them.”

4  The Lord has done great things for us, *

    and we are glad indeed.

5  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, *

    like the watercourses of the Negev.

6  Those who sowed with tears *

    will reap with songs of joy.

7  Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, *

    will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.


> These verses refer to when the people look forward to God restoring them.

> Psalm 120-134 are the Psalms of assents.

> Since God has restored Zion, he should now restore us.

> Everyone is looking for restoration and a new life.



A Reading from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians (5:16-24)                      


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.


> Series of instructions and imperatives to his audience.

> The last two verses are a concluding prayer.

> Great new call about what God is going to do.



The Holy Gospel of Our  Lord Jesus Christ according to John (1:6-8, 19-28)


There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


> Parallel passage to Mark’s version.

> Verses six through eight were added about John the Baptist.

> John the Baptist is a witness and not a precursor.

> There are disagreements between followers of John the Baptist and Jesus.

> Supposed Elijah never died, but rode off to heaven in a chariot.

> Elijah is supposed to return before the great day of the Lord.

> There were lots of people baptized at that time.

> The Christians who wrote the Gospel emphasized again and again that John was not the one.

> He is not given a label in the Book of John as a baptizer.

> There were two Bethanys.