Sunday Readings & Comments

DECEMBER 20, 2020 FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Dear Beloved Friends,

Here we are — approaching the end of Advent once again. Even in this time of health crisis and national upheaval, the Liturgical cycle keeps us grounded in God’s story and connected to a bigger life that is not just later, but holds us now.

And so, with the Collect, we pray for God to make pure our lives and souls. The past and future are held in Christ’s presence within. And finally, when Christ comes for us — we shall be prepared. John the Baptist points the way — as each day, we repent of sin — and turn toward God’s love and healing. In so doing we grow in grace, and Jesus is reborn in us.

The despair and apprehension that greet us in the first weeks of Advent, now give way to a mood of joy and expectation. God is about to do a new thing. Israel’s promised Savior and Redeemer, anticipated by prophets is now the light about to break forth anew into this world and our lives. It is beyond our understanding — yet evokes hope in the new thing God has done and keeps doing.

The lesson from Second Samuel extols Yahweh’s choice of King David’s offspring for the promised one of our salvation. It is the lineage of David through history to the birth at Bethlehem. That kingdom no longer existed by Jesus’ day. And that’s part of the mystery of God’s ways. God comes to do a new thing — to organize a kingdom for the healing of all peoples and nations in Christ.

One of the selections for the Response is the Magnificat, as we read last Sunday. The Psalm for today is the option – another form of Magnificat, this time extolling David’s lineage through God’s faithful keeping of covenant, regardless of human failure. A covenant with David — a light that has gone out by now — never goes out to God – or for the purposes that fulfill God’s promises to this world – always echoing divine truth for those who have ears to hear.

The Epistle reading from Romans is the final three verses, Chapter 16, a benediction for the church at Rome. Paul rejoices that they live in this present time, when God’s power to save and heal is revealed. That which had been secret for ages, is now shouted to invite all into this new covenant – what was secret is now disclosed. We can rejoice — even in dark times. The promise of a Davidic king, as no other who followed David is true and kept in Christ. Now, the present is the time to rejoice in the light of God’s glory.

The Gospel is that beautiful story of Gabriel’s visitation to announce God’s call to Mary. Will she consent? And why will she? Mary has a heart for God of obedience and surrender. She knows God sends prophets or angels, to invite us into a deeper place with Him. Now God has come to her. Mary consents…as someone has said, “The world, now sighs, with relief.” So much rests on this young woman’s decision — fraught with so much unknown, not even in knowing the implications of her consent. That is our journey as well. Do you trust God? Do you listen, hear – like Samuel of old – “Speak Lord, your servant listens.”  Mary listens, chooses wisely. And here we are. She is our model. Be still, and listen – for the Father never ceases speaking, inviting, and calling you, too.

Blessings and God’s peace filling our hearts and minds, as we prepare the way for Christ to come anew within, before long — Fr. Steve


December 20, 2020 Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Collect

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

When the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

1 Your love, O Lord, for ever will I sing; *
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever; *
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; *
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your line for ever, *
and preserve your throne for all generations.’”
19 You spoke once in a vision and said to your faithful people: *
“I have set the crown upon a warrior
and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 I have found David my servant; *
with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21 My hand will hold him fast *
and my arm will make him strong.
22 No enemy shall deceive him, *
nor any wicked man bring him down.
23 I will crush his foes before him *
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him, *
and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25 I shall make his dominion extend *
from the Great Sea to the River.
26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father, *
my God, and the rock of my salvation.’
 

The Epistle

Romans 16:25-27

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith– to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

The Gospel

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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