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Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

Year C, Advent 2 General Reflection on the Readings Episcopal Standard Lectionary and Revised Common Lectionary


Episcopal Standard Lectionary
Revised Common Lectionary
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture):
Baruch 5:1-9 Baruch 5:1-9, or Malachi 3:1-4
126 Canticle 4 or 16
New Testament:
Philippians 1:1-11 Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6 Luke 3:1-6

Reflection on Second Sunday of Advent: Repent and Prepare for the Promise by the Rev. Margaret W. Thomas

ďPrepare the Way of the LordĒ. Johnís (perhaps Jesusí cousin) ministry beckons people out to the shores of the Jordan in flocks. He preaches a baptism of repentance. He offers a flowing forgiveness for sins. The odd, demanding prophet quotes Isaiah as his foundation. Lukeís gospel places John in the center of regional political power struggles. The Jewish historian, Josephus, also identifies John as the truth teller, who challenges king Herodís rule. John jumps directly into the rocky, murky Jordan, to announce the future Lord. He stands on the ancient rocks and offers fresh cleansing waters to prepare for the promised one. He converts the cleaning ritual into a public bath, available for all, in full view of Herodís corrupt system of governance.

The Jordan seems a mild meandering little stream, compared to the great rivers of the world. For Americaís African slaves who escaped across the Ohio River to freedom, the size and power of the Jordan river was massive as a metaphor of promise. For all who remember their baptismal covenant, the promises may be recalled. promises of actual freedom.

Freedom may take many aspects. There may be literal freedom from harm, from slavery, or slave wages, addictions, harmful relationships, freedom from the anxiety of fear, disease, or bondage in prison or to systems, all of which are offered release, or easing within the promises of Johnís call.

Much in music and drama picks up the themes of these words. The film, Oh Brother Where Art Thou? and the older play/film, Godspell are examples. Many African American Spirituals offer alternatives to the familiar hymnal selections; People Look East, 724 and Wade in the Water, 740 in Wonder Love and Praise, are a couple.

The German mystic Hildegard of Bingen recalls the need for baptismal moistness in her instructions to remain green and growing in the spirit.

The time is right to examine and decide to cast out, off, wash away, or commit expectantly to some newness. Does John know that Jesus awaits his baptism too? We do not know; but we do know that he did arrive in the river, for just that same ritual. Changed himself, Jesus could enter new ministry. Where is our new ministry calling us?

Copyright Statement

The Rev. Margaret W. Thomas was the Rector of St. Edward the Confessor Episcopal Church, Duluth, MN, when she wrote this reflection in 2003. Margaret and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Margaret W. Thomas or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC 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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