The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Bible for Sunday, 12-10-06

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The MessiahAh, what fun! Into Advent we go, searching out the intents of God, who regales us with the grand declarations of his coming.

I’ll probably play two of these passages as scored by George Frideric Handel in The Messiah of 1741. If you’re looking for a CD of The Messiah, I am delighted by Telarc Digital’s CD-80093, recorded by Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony. While listening to it this morning, I was reminded how it sizzles with energy and sighs with longing. Maybe people are bored with “classical” music because much of it isn’t done this well!

So, here are Sunday’s readings: What moves you?

Second Sunday of Advent; December 10, 2006
Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Malachi 3:1-4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education
of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Luke 1:68-79

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Footnotes: 1. Luke 1:69 Horn here symbolizes strength.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Philippians 1:3-11
A Love That Will Grow
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Luke 3:1-6

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ “[a]
Footnotes:
1. Luke 3:6 Isaiah 40:3-5

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Written by Monte

December 6, 2006 at 12:54 pm

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