The End is...Now. (Maybe)

The texts for Advent 1 can be found by following this link: (I invite you to give them a read…)

http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearC_RCL/Advent/CAdv1_RCL.html

Jeremiah 33: 14 - 16

This pericope ends with the same proclamation as Jeremiah 23:6: “The Lord is our Righteousness” William L. Holliday notes that Zedekiah is on the throne in Jerusalem at the time of this prophecy. Zedekiah means, “Righteous is Yahweh.” (I love puns). So, Jeremiah ends this whole section by playing on the king’s name to suggest that this “righteous branch to spring up for David” who will “execute justice” and who will save Judah and provide for the safety of Jerusalem, will be known as “Yahweh is our Righteousness.”

Wait, there’s more. What s significant is that the singular becomes plural, Yahweh is our righteousness. So, what? Long story short – and please, ask me about this – it boils down to a reversal of he old sacrificial system. We can’t get away from this with the prophets. The king – the shepherd – would sacrifice his life for the people. Judah’s kings do the opposite. Continue to find sacrificial victims from among the populace so as to avoid having to be the next one. Jesus turns that upside down. If Jesus is to be understood as a king – as the upright root of Jesse – then he is going to have to be very different from Zedekiah and all who came before him and after. Jesus fits Jeremiah’s mold – and is quoted toady for that very purpose – because as the good king/shepherd, he does offer himself for the benefit of his people.  He is our righteousness.

 

1 Thessalonians 3: 9 - 13

The letter to the Thessalonians is likely the earliest of Paul’s letters and as such, the first to the emerging community in Thessalonica – where Paul visited, according to the book of Acts and 1 Thess. 2:2 – right after his release from prison in Philippi.

It is apparent that Paul is excited by their progress in the faith and – sensing their potential as leaders and builders in the kingdom – urges them to remain confident and to continue to build the bonds of love between them.

Fun fact: On a clear day from any point in Thessalonica, one could see Mt. Olympus towering over the horizon across the sea. Olympus was the highest of the Greek mountains and the legendary home of the gods, particularly Zeus. The signs of Roman power and authority were everywhere as well, and the empire’s gods had also been adopted by the city and both emperor and those deities received equal honor as Zeus and company.

No wonder Paul was impressed that his little band had hung in there – as reported to Paul by Timothy (1 Thess. 3: 6) More so, since the local Jewish leadership had accused Paul of stirring up the locals against the emperor and the status quo. Good news.

Luke 21: 25 - 36

I will be preaching on this text, but going a little further afield... Something to ponder, though. Well, several things actually.

The first is the notion that “this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place”.

Luke is written late enough – perhaps 60 years after Jesus’ departure – so that Luke’s Jesus could not have meant his generation, unless he absolutely got it wrong. (Well, by some of the things he said, he did believe that the world was flat. That as wrong…)  And, hey, I said this was something to ponder – I’m not going to tell you what he or Luke meant. (Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure). But it seems to me that what they will be seeing (have seen) is something that does happen – the cataclysmic downfall of Jerusalem near the end of the Jewish – Roman War.

There is a message there about the futility of violence and – I know I’m beating this to death – the seductive power of the old system to make you think that its tools are the tools that will bring about ultimate victory.

Maybe the ‘second coming’ – if that is what it is, or even how we are to perceive this text – is not about the triumph of one side over against other. Jesus is not about destruction – we need to reminded about that…constantly!!!  Jesus is about love, compassion, RECONCILIATION!!!

And, these words – the ones that teach those things, teach us how to engage so that we change the system and use the tools of the kingdom – will never pass away. So, maybe the second coming is more of a gradual transformation – by those who can now read the signs and realize that it is the time for a change – as they love the world into the new age.

That these things always take place – in every generation – is a sign of hope. As Jesus says here, we lift up our heads and know that our redemption is near. This is the time. Let’s be ready to act to make it happen.