Hope

Second Sunday of Advent (December 5, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 11:1-10; Ps. 72:1-7, 18-19; Rm. 15:4-13; Matt. 3:1-12

We are enjoying time with family and friends during our two-month home leave in Harrisonburg, Va.  Our son Holden and his wife Heidi live in Harrisonburg, so we have shared a number of delightful meals together.  Our daughter Jessica visited us over Thanksgiving, as did our son Jeremy and his girlfriend Lyndsay – both students at Bucknell University.

Heidi Byler and Grandma Byler at Thanksgiving Dinner

Cindy spoke to K-Grade 5 students at Eastern Mennonite School on Friday. The children asked insightful questions about life in the Middle East.

Lyndsay Adams and Jeremy Byler

The Common Lectionary readings for this second week of Advent focus on hope.

Isaiah prophesies of a day when God’s justice will prevail for the poor and needy (Is. 11:4) and when adversaries will no longer harm or destroy one another, “for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (v.9)

The psalmist also writes about a coming age when the afflicted and needy will experience justice and the righteous will flourish (Ps. 72:4-7).

In the Epistle reading, Paul speaks of a day when Jews and Gentiles will dwell in unity (Rm. 15:5).  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,” Paul encourages, “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (v.13)

In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist urges the crowds to prepare for the coming Messiah. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” John declares. (Mt. 3:2)

The news headlines are filled with stories about violence, suffering and injustice. Sometimes the promises of Scripture seem distant and naïve.  Yet as followers of Jesus, we are called even now to live into the hopeful future that the Bible speaks of.

If we repent of the ways of the world and walk instead by the power of God’s Spirit, there is nothing to prevent us from living justly in our relationships even now.  With God’s help, it is possible to love our adversaries.  With God’s help it is possible to move beyond our own selfish interests and to consider the interests of others.

This is the hope to which God calls us.

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