Sunday 9th December 2018
2nd Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

There is a fascinating contrast in todayís readings. Those from the Old Testament resound with the vocabulary of royalty - the ďstump of JesseĒ refers to the dynasty of his son, David; Psalm 72 is accredited to Jesseís grandson, King Solomon. At the other end of the spectrum, John the Baptist is presented as an outsider; a voice from the wilderness margins. As the average congregation reflects on its experience of the world of work, they are likely to experience similar contrasts - some will no doubt see themselves as people of relatively little influence, largely caught up in systems and structures over which they have no control, others may well be decision makers and holders of responsibility. Yet there is also a common theme in that each is seeking to be a proclaimer of Godís message of justice and righteousness. This may provide a broad-brush opportunity for a congregation to reflect on their place and participation in wider society, and how they might bring Godís Advent message in their own particular context.

Reflecting on the person of John the Baptist, a congregation might consider who are the equivalent people in our contemporary world. This might develop into an opportunity to pray for campaigners, lobbyists and activists who seek to speak for and represent the disadvantaged, oppressed and marginalised.

We might also recognise that the core messages of these Advent readings ask questions about the economic policies and realities of a society and nation. The king seeks Godís wisdom in defending the needy and rescuing the poor; Isaiah foresees a Messiah who will establish such a rule, and John the Baptist announces that this Messiah has now come. Paul reminds his readers that the calling of the Church is to live out and declare these values and principles, both within its own life and within wider society. From this emerge opportunities to recognise and pray for those who work to define and operate our economic policy, those whose work or lack of work involves them being recipients or administrators of welfare benefit and those whose work require them to make difficult and challenging decisions in seeking justice for all.