the Revised Common Lectionary. Comments and questions are intended to encourage reflection for readers preparing to teach, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged. All lectionary links are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible via the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings website, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead. (Other references are linked to the NRSV via the oremus Bible Browser.)
vs. 1-2 We see more of Isaiah this week, the third week in a row the First Reading has come to us from this prophet. What is the connection between the health and productivity of the land and the well-being of the people of Israel?
v. 3 This verse signals a shift from the land to people.
v. 4 In Isaiah’s context, who were those with a fearful heart? Who has a fearful heart in our context?
vs. 5-7 Here is another shift, this time from people back to the land, where we started. In the case of humans, disabilities are overcome. In the case of the land, situations are reversed.
v. 8 I find it amazing that Isaiah envisions a “highway”. Where does this highway lead? What does it connect?
vs. 9-10 This is not quite a vision of the peaceable kingdom, but sure is close. It almost seems like a vision of paradise, or heaven.
v. 5 In the context of this psalm and the Psalter, what does it mean to be “Happy”. Is this the same “happiness” enumerated in the Declaration of Independence? How are “help” and “hope” related?
v. 6 What does it mean to “keep faith”?
vs. 7-9 Is this an expression of the Bible’s preferential option for the poor and oppressed? How shall we Americans read and interpret this in light of our current national political debate?
v. 47 “Magnificat”
v. 48 Mary’s sentiment seems to reflect the same outlook as expressed in the other optional Psalm, 146:5-10
v. 49 Is there any significance to the use of “the Mighty One”?
v. 46-55 Mary’s psalm of praise, apparently following the template of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10, seems to move from the particular in verses 47-49 to the universal in verses 50-55. What shall we learn from the theological and doxological trajectory of Mary’s song?
vs. 7-8 This reads like an admonition to patiently wait even in the midst of apparently dashed expectations. How near is near?
v. 9 Would anyone like to speculate what people were grumbling about?
v. 10 Do suffering and patience necessarily go together? When might we be called NOT to be patient in the midst of suffering?
v. 2 Note that even though he was in prison, he was hearing “what the Messiah was doing.” Also note that John had his own disciples and was apparently able to communicate with them.
v. 3 I know that this Sunday our Reading comes from Matthew rather than Luke, nevertheless, this verse seems out of place in light of last week’s Gospel reading which suggested that John knew Jesus was the Messiah. Am I reading more into last week’s reading than was there?
v. 5 This is the verse that seems to connect this Reading with the First Reading.
v. 6 How does this verse relate to verse 5?
v. 7-11 This Advent, more than ever before, I am becoming increasingly convinced that there was (and is) a theological, spiritual, and political connection between Jesus and John that is not fully expressed or explored in the Gospels, but is certainly hinted at. Other than Jesus and John, is there anyone in the New Testament portrayed as the fulfillment of prophecy?