The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 24, prepare us for what we celebrate later in the evening, or the next morning —that God pitched his tent and dwelt among us. The Scriptures offer us a view of God’s unfolding promise to come and save his people — from the promise made to King David that the Messiah would come from his line, to the prophets and wisdom literature reassuring God’s people that God was coming and to hold tight, to Mary and Elizabeth experiencing God’s coming to them specially in the babies that they would bear — the promise of fruitfulness to Elizabeth in her old age, and the promise of salvation for all people through Mary. Each carried God’s promise more fully to the present moment, and each of us are invited to be Temple’s of God’s presence in our lives.
The Star Wars franchise has had plenty of ups and downs, but The Last Jedi was a two-hour-and-forty-minute expression of those ups and downs all in one shot. There were cheerful moments (moments when everyone cheered) and “Seriously?” moments. The movie was too ambitious and accomplished less by doing too much. There was a very interesting commentary on the role of religion in society as we see Luke’s struggle with the use of the Jedi and his desire to end the religion. It’s a good watch and a great movie for family discussion.
We call today Gaudete Sunday because “gaudete” means rejoice. In the readings for this Sunday, Dec. 17, we’re given a reason to rejoice — because God’s justice is at hand. He has come to save us, and we receive this in our baptism. The readings make a strong connection with the readings we hear during Lent. What Jesus began at Christmas is completed at Easter, and we’re encouraged to think about our baptism as a reminder of this. We hear the reading from Isaiah that Jesus chose as an introduction to himself in the beginning of his public ministry, and we hear John introduce Jesus as the one who would come after him, and make baptism more than a symbol. The forgiveness of our sins in baptism is our reason to rejoice, because when we’re forgiven, we experience all of the gifts that we hear in the jubilee text of the first reading.
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 10, keep us focused on the second coming, as the first two weeks of Advent do. We hear God’s original promise to come to earth to save God’s people, and we hear God’s continued promise to come and finish what he started in Jesus’ establishing the reign of God on earth. Our funky, three week Advent is a keeper of time as we draw closer to Christmas, and a reminder that we work within God’s timing, not our own. Peter reinforces this in the second reading, where he speaks of a day being like a thousand years to God and vice versa. The Gospel recalls our baptism as a sign of our identity as children of God, inheritors of God’s promise of salvation, and our need to pay attention to the prophetic voice of the John the Baptists in our lives.
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 3, are a little bridge between our experience of God as King of the Universe and our experience of God as a tiny, innocent, helpless baby. The baby is going to be our focus soon, but we know that Jesus isn’t helpless. Our God has always come to us in ways that we can understand, this first week of Advent, we’re encouraged to pay attention to the many ways that Jesus reveals himself to us, to look for him everywhere in our lives, and to make our hearts ready to see him when he’s with us.