Readings: December 15, 2013, 3rd Sunday of Advent
All readings from the Message Bible © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
- Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
The Voiceless Break into Song
Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower—like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.
Mountain glories of Lebanon—a gift. Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts. God’s resplendent glory, fully on display, God awesome, God majestic.
Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”
Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.
The people God has ransomed will come back on this road, they’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness, as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.
- James 5:7-10
Wait patiently, brothers and sisters, for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work. Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.
Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.
Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit.
- Matthew, 11: 2-11
John, meanwhile, had been locked up in prison. When he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”
Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.
“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”
When John’s disciples left to report, Jesus started talking to the crowd about John. “What did you expect when you went out to see him in the wild? A weekend camper? Hardly. What then? A sheik in silk pajamas? Not in the wilderness, not by a long shot. What then? A prophet? That’s right, a prophet! Probably the best prophet you’ll ever hear. He is the prophet that Malachi announced when he wrote, ‘I’m sending my prophet ahead of you, to make the road smooth for you.’
“Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him.