Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 23, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Micah 5:2-5a; Ps. 80:1-7; Heb. 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55
It has been a rich week for relationships.
We enjoyed meals and conversation with David and Sylvia Mehegan (Daryl was David’s cross country coach years ago); Ken and Audrey Seitz (Ken is a former MCC Rep for Lebanon/Syria and we had previously met Audrey in D.C.); Amir and Sheida Akrami (visiting Iranian professor at Eastern Mennonite University); Elsie and Richard Bowman (our daughter-in-law Heidi’s parents); Cheryl and Mark Keeler (Daryl’s sister and brother-in-law); Lee Martin (Mississippi colleague and pastor at Mt. Clinton Mennonite); Clyde Kratz (pastor at Zion Mennonite); Amy Rush (long-time family friend); and Paul Yoder (grad student at University of Virginia). What a blessing to connect with such a diverse and delightful group of friends.
On Saturday, Dec. 22, we shared Christmas dinner with Holden, Heidi and Sydney; Jeremy and Lyndsay; and Daryl’s mother. We plan to travel to Denver on Dec. 25 to spend time with our daughter Jessica, before returning to Amman, Jan. 1.
In the region this week:
- Suleiman Nimri, became the first Jordanian to sell electricity back to the national grid, as alternative energy sources begin to make their debut in the Middle East.
The Common Lectionary readings for this Fourth Sunday of Advent focus on Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep.
In the Old Testament reading, Micah prophesies that the Christ will be born in Bethlehem and will, “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord.” (Micah 5:4a) The sheep will “live securely” and he “will be their peace.” (vv. 4b-5a)
In Psalm 80, the people call upon the shepherd: “Awaken your might; come and save us.” (v.2b) “Restore us, O God,” they plead, “make your face shine upon us that we may be saved.” (v.3)
The writer of Hebrews describes the shepherd as the One who has come to do God’s will (Heb. 10:7, 9), making the sheep (God’s people) holy in the process.
In the Gospel reading, Mary, the mother of Jesus, visits Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. In her song of praise that God has chosen her, Mary describes God’s purposes to be accomplished through Jesus as follows: performing mighty deeds (Lk. 1:51a); scattering the proud (v.51b); casting down rulers from their thrones, while lifting up the humble (v.52); filling the hungry with good things, while sending away the rich empty-handed (v.53); and being merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever (vv. 54-55).
In this Advent season we are grateful that the Shepherd of the sheep continues to lead and guide us, offering us God’s peace and security even in unsettling times.