Well, with 3 to 5 inches of snow last night and the arrival of December it feels like the rush to Christmas and the New Year is on. Can we take time out to hear the story of God’s salvific action in our world? What good news of love, forgiveness, and acceptance have you seen, heard, or experienced lately? Amidst all the bad news, where is the Good News? Please feel free to share your sightings of Good (God) News with me and others.
This Sunday is Communion Sunday for both churches and the sermon series title is “Testify to Unfettered Love.” Our readings are:
Baruch 5:1-9 – What? Pastor, I can’t find this in my Old Testament. Several times a year the Lectionary Committee that devised the weekly reading plan throws in some passages of the Apocrypha (as Protestant churches call it). These are books of the Bible that are accepted by our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters. They are generally not accepted as canonical Scripture by Jews or Protestant Christians. You can find a list of the Apocrypha here. Baruch was a friend and scribe to Jeremiah, but this book may have been put together several hundred years later, during the time of the Maccabean revolt around the middle of the second century BCE. Our passage may be found at Biblegateway.com. The writer looks forward to a time when all the people of Israel and Judah back to God’s Land with all the obstacles of travel eliminated (mountains and hill will be made low and the valleys shall be lifted up). And God will lead them all with Joy and in the light of his Glory.
OR Malachi 3:1-4 – The name Malachi means “my messenger” which is the point of our reading. God will send someone who will be bearing a message. This messenger will bring the covenant but who will be able to withstand the message. This messenger will be like a refiner who heats up the metal to remove the impurities. When the messenger is done purifying, those who are purified will be ready to hear and receive the covenant.
Luke 1:68-79 – This is our Psalm for the week. There once was an old man named Zech. He was a priest at the Temple but only worked a couple of times a year. One day while working, an angel showed up and said that Zech’s wife, Liz, was going to have a child. They were old and after decades of marriage they had no children. When old Zech scoffed, the angel took his voice away. Well, old Zech goes home and he and Liz does what all couples down the ages have done. Low and behold, Liz gets pregnant and 9 months later a strapping baby boy is born. When Zech, who still can’t speak, scratches out the boy’s name, Johnnie, his voice returns and our reading this week is the song he sang. BTW – this passage is often called the “Benedictus” which is the Latin word for “Blessed” the first word of the song.
Philippians 1:3-11 – Paul gives thanks for the work of the people of the church in Philippi. They share the Good News every day. They pray for Paul in his imprisonment. Paul prays that their love may overflow with knowledge and insight so that they may determine what is best. They need to determine what is best so that they may produce a “harvest of righteousness” for the glory of God. What are our churches, meaning the people of our churches, doing to produce a harvest of righteousness?
Luke 3:1-6 – Much like he does in chapter 1:5-7, Luke give us a time marker, so that his readers knows when he is writing about. The Gospel According to Luke was probably written in the late 80’s to early 90’s and may have felt a need to anchor his narrative to known emperors, rulers, and ranking priests of the Jewish Temple. In verse 2b we come back to “little Johnnie” all grown up and stirring up trouble in the Judean desert and by the River Jordan. Luke says that he is the one that Isaiah prophesied about who would cry out in the desert. We will turn to his message next week.
Have a great week serving God by serving others.
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor