Thursday, December 05, 2019

Advent 1A

Isaiah 2:2-5

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!

The first Sunday of advent opens wide a new year of grace.

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 2019 we anticipate the infant Jesus' arrival into occupied territory—occupied by... consumerism? military? Wall Street/the DOW and the NASDAQ? social media? religion of excessive sports?

This new year does not begin with scriptural creation accounts! All three lectionary new years open with a splash of apocalyptic, signaling the end of the world as we've known it. Apocalyptic is a revealing, uncovering, with signs and wonders in the natural world, creation. Not all that different from an epiphany! Today's apocalypse is a strangely interesting parable from Matthew 24. All of this lectionary year A features the Gospel according to Matthew for most of the gospel readings.

Blue, the color of hope, is the contemporary liturgical color for advent. Advent is a season of hope, and a time of repentance in the face of God's loving, mercy-filled judgment. Churches that don't have blue paraments still can use purple that's now mostly for the more intentionally penitential season of Lent that leads to the great fifty days of Easter. As Pastor Peg pointed out, in many ways Advent through Epiphany (ending with Transfiguration) is one long season of light.

During Matthew's Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) year A, the first readings for all four Sundays of Advent are from 1st Isaiah, Isaiah of Jerusalem, "the pre-exilic Isaiah," though all of chapters 1 through 39 are not from the same author.

8th century contemporaries Isaiah of Jerusalem (2:2-4, today's reading) and Micah 4:1-3 both include this passage.

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 in this passage 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.

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