1The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3Many peoples shall come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
All three advent lectionary year begin with a splash of apocalyptic, signaling the end of the world as we've known it. Revealing, uncovering, signs and wonders in creation, in the natural world. Today's apocalypse is a strangely interesting parable from Matthew 24.
We concluded the year of grace that ended last week with Reign of Christ / Christ the King with part of Melchior's song from Gian-Carlo Menotti's Ahmal and the Night Visitors:
The child we seek holds the seas and the winds on his palm.
The child we seek has the moon and the stars at his feet.
Before him, the eagle is gentle the lion is meek.
On love, on love alone will he build his kingdom...
His might will not be built on your toil.
Swifter than lightning he will soon walk among us.
He will bring us new life and receive our death.
And the keys to his city belong to the poor.
The first Sunday of advent opens wide a new year of grace. This new year does not begin with scriptural creation accounts! We hear Genesis 1 at the Easter Vigil during all three lectionary years and also onTrinity Sunday Year A, Baptism of Jesus Year B; the Day of Pentecost A, B, and C feature the creation account from Psalm 104.
The first advent, ad-venire, coming, or arrival of Jesus of Nazareth happened in Roman occupied territory after 700 years of enemies—Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Syria, Rome.
During this Advent 2016 we anticipate the infant Jesus' arrival into occupied territory: consumerism? military? wall street? social media? religion of excessive sports?
Blue, the color of hope, is the liturgical color for advent. Advent is a season of hope, and a time of repentance in the face of God's mercy-filled judgment.
During Matthew's RCL year A, the first readings for all four Sundays of Advent are from 1st Isaiah, Isaiah of Jerusalem, "the pre-exilic Isaiah," though the entirety of chapters 1 through 39 are not from the same author.
8th century contemporaries Isaiah of Jerusalem (2:2-4) and Micah 4:1-3 both include this passage.
Isaiah 1: violence, travesty, bribery, injustice, empty religious festivals, sacrifices, extravagances. Via Isaiah 1:17 God charges the people "Learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend, the orphan, plead for the widow."
All three Isaiah prophets bring us a wide world view with universalism that insists Yahweh is God of all, God for all. No more us and them!
Paradox is Zion was not the highest mountain, "the nations" were not caravanning to Jerusalem and Mount Zion. Also, God's people were not unique in considering their capital city the center of the world.
Isaiah 2:1"The word Isaiah ... saw." A visible word! Hebrew here is dabar that denotes both speech and action. Visible words? How about us? Sacraments, visions, dreams, paintings... advertising art!
Isaiah 2:3 "God of Jacob" – Genesis 28:13-15, Jacob's dream, Jacob's ladder: land, offspring, God's constant, abiding presence, homecoming.
Psalm 122 for today: 1I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord!" 2Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.