The Story for the
Third Sunday of Advent
December 13, 2020
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
This Advent, we are not reading the usual lectionary readings. Instead, we have crafted an Advent series that tells the story of God’s saving work through the lens of four pairs or individuals from the Bible who reveal the
transformative power of hope in God.
On Sunday, we will hear these stories in a variety of ways – Bible readings, stories, poems, and songs.
Isaiah 1:1-4,12-20 and Isaiah 40
On the third Sunday in Advent, we will hear two passages from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The first passage comes from before Judah was occupied and the people sent into exile. The prophet speaks God’s judgement on the nation and calls them to return to righteousness. The second passage was written after the exile had taken place and seeks to assure the people that God has not abandoned them but will ultimately see them restored to their home.
Something to Do
The salvation described in the Book of Isaiah has been understood by Christians throughout history as the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus (Jewish readers of the text obviously have different interpretations). As a result, the traditional Advent readings draw on Isaiah and many Advent hymns are crafted around the poetry of the book.
Most famously, the words for Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah are largely drawn from Isaiah. Make time for this beautiful piece of music this week.
- You can singalong with CAMMAC’s virtual Come Sing Messiah (with links to online scores).
- Check out the Toronto Symphony Orchestra‘s multi-media contemporary Canadian interpretation.
- Or simply find a recording, pour a drink of your choosing, and listen.
We called this week “Patient Hope” because Isaiah is clear that the people have no choice but to wait, even if he is also clear that what they are waiting for is a very good thing.
Practice patience this week by waiting deliberately at every little opportunity. Standing in a line up? Boiling a pot of water? At a stoplight? Computer updating? Build your patience muscle every chance you get!
Something to Wonder
Isaiah – like the whole Bible – is not written to an individual or even a group of individuals but to a people. That people can be understood in different ways: the nation of Israel; the Body of Christ; the community of faith; the family of God; humanity itself. But the you is almost always plural.
Does keeping this idea at the front of your attention change how you read these passages from Isaiah? Who do you think God is addressing today with these very strong words? Are they listening? Where do you (singular) fit into all this?
How does the idea of patient hope make you feel?
How does it fit (or not fit) with the call to justice?
What is your relationship to the idea of patience itself?
Would you have chosen a different phrase?
Something to Learn
More on Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah was not, in fact, written by one prophet but rather is rooted in the writings of one prophet but continued by those who came after. The events covered in the book span over 100 years and it serves as history, political analysis, and theology – often in the form of poetry.
Wikipedia’s overview is, as always, good place to start.
Myjewishlearning.com has an excellent article on the person and history of Isaiah ben Amoz who wrote the first part of the book.
And The Bible Project’s videos explain why, as Christians, we see Jesus revealed so clearly in the Prophet’s words.
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.