First Sunday of Advent (November 29, 2009)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Jer. 33:14-16; Ps. 25:1-10; I Thess. 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

This week we traveled to Jerusalem to meet with an MCC learning tour from the United States. One of the participants was Cindy’s 5th grade teacher, Celia Gerber Lehman! MCC sponsors learning tours to Palestine/Israel each spring and fall to help constituents gain a deeper understanding of the situation than is conveyed through the popular media.

Cindy in Jerusalem, with her 5th grade teacher Celia Gerber Lehman

Some three million Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca this week. We have enjoyed listening to interviews on local TV with persons making the pilgrimage – or Hajj. The pilgrimage is seen as a turning point in one’s religious faith – and there is a broadly held expectation that one will live more faithfully after returning from Mecca.

Friday, Nov. 27, also marked the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a feast in which Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God. During this feast, many Muslims sacrifice an animal – usually a sheep. It is also a time for visiting family members and exchanging gifts. Sadly, the beginning of the feast was marred by a series of bomb attacks in Iraq.

In the region this week, Jordan’s King Abdullah dissolved the parliament and ordered elections two years ahead of schedule. Many in the media alleged widespread corruption in the parliament and that it has acted ineptly in dealing with important legislation.

The Common Lectionary readings for this first Sunday of Advent focus on waiting for the second coming of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of this as a day when God’s promise will be fulfilled. God will cause a righteous Branch to spring up who will “execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer. 33:15).

The psalmist waits all day long for God. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths,” David pleads. “Lead me in your truth” (Ps. 25:4-5).

In the Epistle reading, Paul prays for the Thessalonian church — that God will make them abound in love for one another and strengthen their hearts in holiness so that they “may be blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (I Thess. 3:12-13).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of signs that will precede his return and urges his followers to “be on guard” (Luke 21:34) and to “be alert at all times” (v.36).

As we wait in this Advent season for the coming on the One who will execute justice and righteousness in the land, may we be alert to all that God is calling us to be and do to make our world a more just and peaceful place.

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