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Episcopal Church in Minnesota
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Lectionary Reflection

Year A, Advent 3
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
General Reflection the Readings



Reflection on Readings for Advent 3, Year A
by the Rev. Elaine Barber

The Blooming Land Borrowing the Eyes of God
Rose Sunday in Advent December 12, 2010

How lucky I was to have relatives who worked the land as farmers in the rich soil of the Jordan area south of the Twin Cities. The acreage near our family farm had rolling fields with small streams running through the corn and wheat fields, which were tributaries of the Sand Creek, which eventually spilled into the Minnesota River. The family members who worked those fields could have been the role models of the James Epistle reading for today. They were the industrious farmers who waited for their precious crops to appear each spring. They were patient and hopefully that the harvest season would bring a bountiful crop to store in the fall of the year. They lived the saying that Hope Springs Eternal for those who wait on the Lord. God would provide ---especially if they did their part in the work needed to produce the crops!

But they were also blessed with the right environment for the harvest to be plentiful. They were not attempting to bring the crops out of a barren, sterile land. Growing crops in the wrong environment can be a more challenging task to say the very least. Growing a deep faith also may require work and patience. We need to wait, with hope and trust in our hearts, and then at the proper time the harvest will bring the full fruit in due season.

In our liturgical season of the year, Advent, we are moving closer and closer to Christmas and the birth of the Messiah. To encourage us and to keep us Hopeful, the church allows us to celebrate with the more lively color of rose rather than blue or purple. Thus, we are recognizing this leap forward on Rose Sunday, a Hope Filled Sunday, and in my reflection on the readings for the day, which I have called the Blooming Land message, Borrowing the Eyes' of God for our Vision Ahead.

Our readings for Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, Rose Sunday, are beautiful, comforting, encouraging, delightful, and inspiring. How can one resist the Joyful impact as we read the images found in both the Isaiah 35 reading or the Eleventh Chapter of Matthew????

Both of these reading take us to the Desert to imagine change and transformation---in both a physical, earth bound way and in a personal spiritual way..

In Isaiah we are asked to see the desert land full of joy!!!!!

We are shown a Wilderness rejoicing and blossoming.....

a land singing......a desert moved to a new level with plants fed with moisture..... cactus
replaced by cattails and rushes.... water gushing out of the Desert sand.

Transformation has also come to the people of God. The blind see, the lame leap like deer,

the deaf have their hearing delivered to them. All of God's people will speak and shout for joy!

Matthew's Gospel speaks of the Man sent from God to bring the Good News and healing to the people who have waited so long for the Messiah to come to the people of God. . The same or similar human physical healings are celebrated in the two readings. The Blind are given their sight, the lame walk freely, the deaf hear, and those with skin diseases are cured.
Perhaps the Kingdom of God for the people is nearer to the day when the Desert is full of joy and the people of God are finally delivered from pain and sorrow.

Jesus, according to Matthew's version of this story, acknowledges the importance of John the Baptist and his work as a messenger and prophet. He labels John--- the Elijah who was to come. Jesus cheers on the faithful, forceful people who have advanced the KINGDOM OF GOD to the moment in time when He can move the Kingdom even further to completion through His healing ministry with the lame, the deaf, the blind, and the disenfranchised members of society.

As we read these prophetic, wisdom lessons, we can imagine how we in our day and age can advance the transformation of the world to these ideal images. We can set our hearts to the needs of both the physical world and the world of humanity in need of healing.

In my Journal of Fellowship in Prayer, Sacred Journey, there is an article called Borrowing the Eyes of God by Rebecca Laird. In her article she speaks about a recent trip to visit Malawi, a village in southern Africa as part of a mission trip to bring wells to a dry, arid part of that country, In one village she observed the people using a new well where the corn could be milled into flour for the first time in generations and generations of the villagers. She states that the once dusty plot of land at the edge of the village was now a center of food, water, and community. The well has restored the hope and the faith of the people.

At the next village the leaders spoke of the loss of many of their village members due to waterborne diseases, and they shared the 'good news' that the new well had spared the village from more useless, unnecessary deaths. In the third village they could hear the tall drill rig---booming out progress though the packed dirt, gravel, and hard rock to reach mud, and then finally clean water. Hope Springs Eternal through the sound of the drill rig.

The gift of technology and wells had brought a change and new hope to the people who had given up in so many ways. The Desert was Blooming. The People could now see through the Eyes of God to experience Hope again.

We too as the People of God are asked to Come on a Sacred Journey to speed the ideals of Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the dedicated people who are working to produce a Blooming World for all of God's people in our own homeland where we struggle with environmental issues or far away in Africa where solar ovens aid the village women or a new well is being drilled. We simply need to ask ourselves how we can make the Desert Bloom where we are planted or where we are sent as God's representatives.

Rebecca Laird ended her article with these words: " WE must literally and figuratively find ways to link our lives together to help people seek life with all its fullness for ourselves and others as we drill deeply and drink from the daily groundwater of God's love."
She also offered a prayer by Howard Turman, a African-American mystic, to inspire us to Borrow the Eyes of God to aid the Blooming Desert.

Let us pray.

God is here in the midst of life, breaking through the commonplace soil, glorifying the ordinary.

One must tread the earth with a deep awe and reverence.

God is in this place. Do not wait for the moments of great crisis to hear God's Spirit winging near you.

Rather, find God now in the simple experience of daily living, in the normal ebb and flow of life
as you live it each and every day looking for the Blooming Desert through God's Eyes.

Printable version

To Reflections on other Readings for Year A, Advent 3:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Psalm 146: 4-9
or Canticle 3 or 15
New Testament Reading:
James 5: 7-10
James 5: 7-10
Matthew 11: 2-11
Matthew 11: 2-11
General Reflection on all readings (this page)


The Rev Elaine Barber was a supply priest of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota when she originally wrote this reflection in 2010. Elaine and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Elaine Barber or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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