Archive for the ‘joy’ Tag

3rd Sunday of Advent 2011 – “Shoots of righteousness”   Leave a comment

Theme for week 2: “Signs of God’s coming”

The Bible passages set for today are: Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24; and John 1: 6-8, 19-28.

The Lectionary has taken us back to the story of John the Baptist again.  The words from John’s Gospel this time:

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
[John 1: 6-8 NIV]

in some way echoing those from Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. … to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour.
[Isaiah 61: 1-2 NIV]

When John the Baptist is quizzed by the religious leaders of the day as to who he was he replies: “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” [John 1: 23] apparently citing the words from Isaiah 40: 3 that we met on the reflections of Sunday 4 December and Tuesday 6 December.

The notes for today’s reflections open with the question: “How can you tell when God is at work?” My immediate reaction to that was He/She is always at work; we just might not be always aware of it.  While accepting that as true there do seem to be times in history and in our individual life’s journey when the separation between the divine and the temporal or earthy seems particularly thin.  The notes suggest the signs from Isaiah of this include: oppressed people becoming free; those who are sad are comforted and in the wilderness of life shoots of righteousness and praise begin to grow.

While not disbelieving that as a pattern of God’s working both in the leading up to what some Christians would describe as the focal point of history, the coming of Christ, and in the transformations that happen in personal spiritual journeys, it is not something recognise as a current or recent experience in my life.  I am neither aware of being in a spiritual desert nor of particular or new stirrings of God in my life.

There is another echo from Old to New Testaments in today’s readings:

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. … For as the soil makes the young plant come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up
[Isaiah 61: 10-11 NIV]

And:

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
[1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 KJV]

In Isaiah the rejoicing is at seeing the new shoots of God’s work; in Thessalonians Paul is urging us to rejoice in whatever circumstances recognising that it is the will of God.  Now there is a challenge.  Turning it into a personal challenge how do I find joy in what seems like a bland spiritual state?