Texts for Sunday, December 16th

     I will be preaching on the following passages at Silver Creek Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 16th.  I welcome your feedback to help get the conversation going as we journey together through these lectionary texts.  Feel free to comment on the blog or contact me at smfearing@gmail.com.  Grace and peace, Stephen.

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
   shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
   O daughter Jerusalem! 
The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,
   he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
   you shall fear disaster no more. 
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
   do not let your hands grow weak. 
The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
   a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
   he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing 
   as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
   so that you will not bear reproach for it. 
I will deal with all your oppressors
   at that time.
And I will save the lame
   and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
   and renown in all the earth. 
At that time I will bring you home,
   at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
   among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
   before your eyes, says the Lord.

Luke 3:7-18
     John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’
     And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’
     As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’
     So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.


Filed under Lectionary Texts

3 responses to “Texts for Sunday, December 16th

  1. Select texts that stand out to me: ———————————–…The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst……The Lord, your God, is in your midst……‘What then should we do?’……‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise……one who is more powerful than I……He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire…Selah.

  2. Dan, thank you for your thoughts! I would love to hear a little more about why these portions of the text stand out to you! For me, the fact that the Lord is, indeed, "in our midst" leads me to the question, "What should I do about this?" I do love how John gives us some rather concrete ways to respond to this good news!

  3. Stephen, great question. The irony, or the coincidence, or perhaps even the Spirit of how I returned to this post is interesting. It just happens that I returned to this after reading your October post "The Sacrament of Subway" which was posted to facebook this morning. http://our1wildandpreciouslife.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-sacrament-of-subway.htmlI didn't know you'd replied to my comment so I apologize for not checking back sooner. To answer your questions though, albeit too late I'm sure, I'd say (a) these texts stood out to me because God wanted them to. When I read scripture, I start with prayer, asking for God to guide my understanding, and point out to me what it is he wants me to remember, see, feel, know, believe, and respond to. In the case of lectionary texts, I also pray for guidance in understanding the what/why behind the texts selected – what is it the authors want us to see, and why? I suspect [some of] what the authors of the lectionary want us to see is a connection between these two texts as being one of power over the harvest and victory over our feeble religious attempts to claim some authority over the harvest ourselves – the temptation, the falseness, of believing that we've done all the work and the day of festival (something of great importance to Israel) is what it is because of what we've done when in fact, it's not. (b) It strikes me as interesting that the lectionary stops at Luke 3:18. Why not include 19 & 20? What is it that the lectionary wants us to do with this? It creates a tension… and yet, it's right in front of us: "So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people." If we read on… 19 & 20 aren't good news for us. And yet, the texts from Zeph. call out to us to sing shouts of joy, to have no fear, to know that disaster can't stop us, that our fortunes will be restored… because the Lord is in our midst. Would love to know how that sermon turned out on the 16th. Merry Christmas. Dan

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