Sunday Reading & Comments


Dear Sisters and Brothers who wait in Advent,

On Sunday the Second Sunday of Advent we light first, the Candle of Hope, and then the Second Candle – Love. In the readings, note the deep and ever abiding love of God to comfort and save his people – all creation. That is also the hope captured for us now, in these present days, also echo in the Collect of the Day. God sends messengers – prophets like John the Baptist, to call people to life in God’s realm. In the Gospel we’re introduced to John in the wilderness, the last of Old Testament prophets who call us to turn toward God again, each day, and be washed anew by divine forgiveness and love. As in that day – we do the work of self-preparation. Salvation is here. To receive it, we align ourselves with the Lord’s vision for us.

Isaiah’s words to captive Israel begin with that familiar recitative from Messiah – Comfort ye my people. Handel captures the prophet’s words in the prophets words from the Lord. God is the faithful comforter of sorrowing souls. As someone once said, “God comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable.” If it doesn’t always seem to happen for you that way, rest assured. One day it will. God will come and straighten our ways out, smooth the uneven places of our lives, and His glory will be revealed, in gathering us all, safely home.

The Psalmist echoes Isaiah’s words. God’s promises are laid for us. Pay attention. It’s not so much fear and threat — though that has its way of getting our attention. Focus instead on what the Lord is doing and will do. With our eyes and hearts, our actions fixed upon him – we are able to respond properly and faithfully to receive and live God’s promises.

God’s love for us is reflected in Peter’s second letter. The focus is clearly on the Second Advent. The first Advent inaugurated a new relationship with God for us, the Second is promised to those who wait for Christ – living with hope — and engaging actions of love for what God loves — all peoples, all creation which God creates and loves. All of this is remarkable and disorients this present world’s values, and ours, prepares us for Christ’s second coming project of full reclamation. While we wait – get with God’s program. Examine and make needed changes – work to help others live God’s agenda — practice for life to come.

The Gospel focuses on John the Baptist in the wilderness – preaching, calling for repentance, and baptizing for forgiveness of sins. The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, starts with John. Mark harkens back to our passage from Isaiah to cast Jesus as the Lord in the wilderness to lead us out — and John is the voice of the prophet, this time. John makes Advent, but is forgotten by Christmas. I once preached on John in Advent — noting no Advent or Christmas cards carry John and his message that begins the good news. Nor does he rate an appearance in holiday scenes on front lawns. The husband of our Deacon at the time brought me a picture the next Sunday from their front porch. He’d dressed a figure as John the Baptist — a wilderness hippie looking rough and austere, lighted and sitting by their front door. John got his moment at Christmas. Jesus will later say John is the greatest of these prophets. There are still prophetic voices among us — but not with the charism of those in the Old Testament God called, or John. Year B – we meet this last prophet who prepares God’s final path home for us.

Continue as I suggest — to read, reread, pray, mark, inwardly digest — and meditate to listen to what God is saying to you. The sermon is another word – someone else speaks. Sometimes God may speak through a sermon. God’s most direct route is through the time you give him – and the listening you do.

Blessings as we continue our Advent journey – Fr. Steve

Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020

The Collect

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

1 You have been gracious to your land, O Lord, *
you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2 You have forgiven the iniquity of your people *
and blotted out all their sins.
8 I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.
9 Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11 Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed grant prosperity, *
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness shall go before him, *
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

The Epistle

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

The Gospel

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
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