“…a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit..”
Advent Week 3
This offering is taken from an online advent retreat I’m hosting this year. The recording is one reading from Isaiah and a Lectio Divina on a short poem. I also offer the additional lectionary readings for week three. If you’d like to listen to all of the readings you can do so Here
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
61:3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
61:4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
61:8 For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
61:9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
61:11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
No Safe Place
by Sheila Rosen
So there’s no safe place. God, it seems,
might insert himself into any conversation,
any century. Might settle in – any old place,
as he quintessentially did in the West Bank,
Palestine, small town called Bethlehem.
The story is – God breathed himself
into the womb of a woman, turning himself
over to her umbilical care, folding himself
into fetal position, pressing and turning
inside Mary, ‘til she, breathing hard, bore down.
Mary’s womb turned inside out – amniotic
water, gasping infant, placenta spilling
into the night, messy and miraculous
as any birth anywhere and not a safe place.
Did he know – he must have – when he took on
flesh and fingernail and bone marrow,
he would be at our mercy?
For us too, no safe place. For you see what
he’s done – given notice how he, at any time,
might break into our conversation, West Bank,
West Coast, Bethlehem, Vancouver. There’s no place
safe from his radical willingness to be among us.
The rest of the readings for this week
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
126:4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
126:5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
126:6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
1:46b “My soul magnifies the Lord,
1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
1:51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
5:16 Rejoice always,
5:17 pray without ceasing,
5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
5:20 Do not despise the words of prophets,
5:21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good;
5:22 abstain from every form of evil.
5:23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5:24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
John 1:6-8, 19-28
1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
1:20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”
1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”
1:22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
1:23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said.
1:24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
1:25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”
1:26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,
1:27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”
1:28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.