Spreading the Good News

The Second Week in Advent

What's ahead in the Bible readings
The Second Week in Advent
December 6 to 12, 2018

Next week I hope to have ready a review of The New Living Translation of the Bible, which has many useful features. Alas, my moving took up too much of my time to get it done for this week.

John the Baptist and Waiting

john-baptist.jpg

This week's readings tell us something of John the Baptist's coming into the world. Our canticle for the time of preparation is Zechariah's, from the first chapter of Luke. Zechariah and Elizabeth had not been able to have children. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah while he was ministering in the sanctuary and foretold John's birth. He also said that John would have the spirit and power of Elijah and would be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born. Zechariah questioned whether what Gabriel could be true because both he and Elizabeth were old. (Can you imagine questioning an angel?) Gabriel told because of this questioning he would be unable to speak until these things came to pass. The words of the canticle are the first ones Zechariah spoke after John's birth. None of this backstory is in our readings, but one of our readings make reference to it. On Wednesday, Isaiah says “the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.” Many other references to John are included. On Saturday, the Hebrew prophet Malachi says that Elijah will return before the great and terrible day of the Lord. In the Sunday reading, Malachi says “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.” And of course, the Sunday Gospel, John is out in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism for the repentance of sins. Adding a theme of waiting, the Monday Epistle reading is about how all of creation has been groaning in labor pains.

Spreading the Good News

Spreading the Good News is a related theme. In Saturday's Gospel reading, Jesus sends out his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. On Thursday, Paul says his imprisonment has allowed the whole Imperial Guard to know the Gospel, and that the brothers and sisters have been emboldened to speak the word without fear. The same reading continues on Friday, when Paul is bold enough to say “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”

Malachi

Four of our Hebrew Scripture readings are from the prophet Malachi. His book is the last one in Christian versions of the Hebrew Scriptures. (Jewish Bibles are arranged differently with Torah first, then the Prophets, then what are called Writings, which is everything that doesn't fit into the first two categories.) Malachi means my messenger in Hebrew, which describes his role. He made his prophesies in Jerusalem after the second temple was built but before Nehemiah's reforms. Things were not going well in his time, and he had much to say against the priests and the people. At the same time, he holds out a message of hope, a hope we Christians believe was fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah.

Expanding Our Audience

We want more people to have access to God's word through our website, emails, Facebook posts, and tweets. The best way to do that is to advertise on Google. Google gives grants to non-profits; the requirements are more than I can manage along with doing 99% of everything else that happens to make this work. Luckily there are companies that will manage the grants, but you have to pay them, and you can't use grant money to pay them. We need to raise about $4,500, and so far we've only raised $195.

If getting these readings helps you in any way, please make a donation. Do it now, while it's on your mind. I will be grateful and perhaps a bit less frustrated. Follow this link: Make a contribution to the Google Grant Campaign.

May you find many blessings in this Advent Season. Thank you for all that you do to advance the reign of God.

Mike Gilbertson

Summaries and Links for the next seven days

Thursday to Sunday Canticle Luke 1:68-79 Zechariah's song on the birth of his son, John the Baptist.

Monday to Wednesday Psalm 126 Prayer for restoration

Thursday: Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent
Malachi 3:5-12 The people are urged to return to the Lord of hosts.
Philippians 1:12-18a To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Friday: Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent
Malachi 3:13-18 The reward of the faithful
Philippians 1:18b-26 Paul rejoices that Christ is proclaimed.

Saturday: Preparation for the Second Sunday in Advent
Malachi 4:1-6 The great day of the Lord
Luke 9:1-6 The Twelve are sent forth.

The Second Sunday in Advent
Baruch 5:1-9 The return of scattered Israel
or Malachi 3:1-4 I will send my messenger.
Philippians 1:3-11 The harvest of righteousness
Luke 3:1-6 Prepare the way of the Lord.

Monday: Reflection on the Second Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 40:1-11 Make straight in the desert a highway for God.
Romans 8:22-25 We wait.

Tuesday: Reflection on the Second Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 19:18-25 All nations shall praise God.
2 Peter 1:2-15 Support your faith with mutual affections and mutual affection with love.

Wednesday: Reflection on the Second Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 35:3-7 God's advent will change everything.
Luke 7:18-30 John the Baptist sends messengers to Jesus.

Image of John the Baptist courtesy of www.LumoProject.com.