Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Third Sunday of Advent (A), December 11, 2016 - Isaiah 35:1-10 and Matthew 11:2-11

Isaiah 35:1-10

Gotthardt Kuehl:  Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) (1896)

After Disaster

Apparently, you can go home again.
At least, Isaiah has the nerve to think
You can return to what you knew deep down,
Although you drank disaster's bitter drink.

Perhaps it's when you rediscover how,
You were assured, as children, all was right;
Perhaps it's when old innocence you find,
And speak the truth; assume they'll see the light.

Although the pain of what was past remains,
Still, strengthen hands; make firm the feeble knees;
Proclaim to those who love, "Be strong! Fear not!"
God will restore us from such times as these.

Scott L. Barton

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, 
the desert shall rejoice and blossom; 
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, 
and rejoice with joy and singing. 
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, 
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. 
They shall see the glory of the Lord, 
the majesty of our God. 
Strengthen the weak hands, 
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart, 
“Be strong, do not fear! 
Here is your God. 
He will come with vengeance, 
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, 
and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
then the lame shall leap like a deer, 
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. 
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert; 
the burning sand shall become a pool, 
and the thirsty ground springs of water; 
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, 
the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people; 
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 
they shall obtain joy and gladness, 
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
+  +  +

Matthew 11:2-11

Hieronymus Bosch: John the Baptist in the Wilderness (ca. 1489); Museum of Lazaro Galdioano, Madrid, Spain.

A Messiah Like That

To a contractor I have said,
"Are you the one who is to come,
Or shall we wait for another?"
Now let's say I ask it this week,
Since now my particular need
Is getting a load of firewood;
But what if the answer I hear is,
"I am heating peoples' houses
For their entire lives, not just
One load at a time. Pretty cool!"
Would I risk it? Would I believe?
Or would my faith be just in what
I can see - my wood, the stove's flame?
The Preposterous One does more
Than you or I can imagine:
People see the light! Get moving!!
They're no longer outcast!!! They hear!!!!
Their spirits are no longer dead!!!!!
(Can you tell Matthew's shouting now?)

A Messiah like that may be
A better bargain than you thought.

Scott L. Barton

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

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