During this Advent Season, take time to read and reflect on the lectionary readings for the week. Take one passage a day, read its contents and the devotional, and spend time reflecting on the questions provided or questions of your own.
With each passage what words or phrases stick out to you as dramatic, thought-provoking, or contemplative? What message is the author trying to convey? How would the people of the time have heard this? How might people hear it today?
Week 1 Sunday November 27 – Saturday December 3
The later chapters of the Book of Isaiah speak of the restoration of Israel with the Persian Empire working as servants of God to fulfill this renewal. For years, the people of Israel and Judah were exiled from their homeland after the Babylonian Empire conquered them. In this passage, the author of Isaiah speaks about patience in waiting for God’s action, about seeing the restoration that God will provide in new, unexpected ways. Is God’s work of redemption always visible and extreme? Do the mountains always tremble? In this Advent season, reflect on ways that God is working in your life and in our world, that may be unexpected or hardly noticed. How can we use this time of waiting to discover the work of God for the healing of our lives and world?
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
The Psalms contained in the Hebrew Scriptures are poems of worship for the people of Israel, through early Christianity, and even today. They were set to music, sung or chanted and they address God in a number of different ways; from praise and adoration, to lamentation and supplication. Much like the passage from Isaiah, this Psalm calls on God for restoration of God’s people. It is of important note that the Psalm begins with a reference to Israel’s history, that of Joseph and the other son’s of Jacob who would become the 12 tribes of Israel. These types of references are common in the Psalms, reminding both God and the people of their past and of the history of their relationship. How has God been present in your own history, that of your family, your country? In what ways has their been a break in those relationships? What events and stories can you call upon to refresh these relationships?
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth opens with a greeting traditional of letters during this time period. This opening is one of assurance to the people as they look for the “end of the age” which many early Christians believed was close at hand. Paul recognizes how the people were “enriched” in living out the testimony of Christ. Reflecting back on the past year, how has your living out of Christ’s testimony been enriched? How has it lacked? What are some new areas of your life where you can live out Christ’s message of love and justice?
The Gospel of Mark is the earliest of the four canonical Gospels, authored around the time of the fall of the Temple in 70 CE. This historical context is very important for this particular passage. Jesus addresses his disciples’ questions about the “end of the age” and what will take place. There are many different themes and lessons one could reflect upon from this passage. One particularly important for Advent is the theme of “keep awake” for the Son is soon coming and our hearts must be prepared. After the destruction of the Temple, first Century Jews were looking for a sign of redemption and hope in the midst of this collapse. Where is the reign of God we were promised? If Jesus was our Messiah and promised us the redemption of God, how do we live in this time of destruction? Reflecting on Mark’s Gospel may give us insight into the problems of our own world. In what ways to we wait for redemption? What is the benefit of keeping watchful in a world of violence and destruction?