Nativity Set Reveals, video, The Corner Uniting Church, 2017.
Over thousands of years, God has surprised God’s people with unlikely gifts. They were often unexpected and not always understood. These gifts were the way God revealed Godself and showed glimpses of the promise of the greatest unexpected gift of all – Jesus.
Isaiah 40: 1-11 (NRSV)
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand for ever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’
See, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead the mother sheep.
Mark 1: 1-8 (NRSV)
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight” ’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
While others are making lists of things we have enough of,
you come to offer us salvation, the one gift we cannot purchase.
As the world prepares to entice us with more and more,
you come to fill our hearts with all the hopes you have dreamed for us forever.
When skepticism and fear harden our hearts,
you come to bathe us in the soothing lotion of compassion.
When stress scoops out potholes for every step we take,
you come, filling the emptiness with serenity as tough as your grace.
As the clock turns faster and faster each day,
you come to swaddle us in a shawl woven with patience.
So come to us, come to us, God in Community,
Holy One, as we meet together this morning.
-©Seasons of the Spirit