Sunday 16th December 2018
3rd Sunday in Advent

Isaiah 35:1-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11; Psalm 146:4-9

An obvious connection between this week’s readings and the world of work is found in the Epistle, where the recipients are invited to reflect on the life of a working farmer and to be patient for Christ’s coming. This could be expanded to explore other professions and working people within the congregation whose jobs require patient waiting or looking for signs that something is “ready”. This might include chefs, those who work with ceramics, chemists and biologists etc. A consistent message of Advent is that while we are waiting, we seek to bring God’s justice and righteousness into whatever situation our daily lives involve.

The image of “streams in the desert” could be explored literally, thinking about those who work in irrigation or other professions that help support life and wellbeing in hostile environments. This could be developed more poetically to explore how individuals will often enrich the lives of their fellow human beings through their daily work. Using work in this way is a reflection of God’s advent purpose for humanity. Further reflection could include identifying places of “economic wilderness” and thinking about our shared responsibilities to build a just society through the lives we live. A congregation might particularly stop to recognise and pray for those who work in regeneration, overseas development etc.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of John the Baptist as the greatest of human beings. This offers an opportunity to reflect on how contemporary society tends to measure and assess greatness. A congregation might particularly reflect on how different professions are rewarded and what this says about the values that society places on things. There remains a tendency to ‘rate’ an individual by the salary that they earn - a congregation might be invited to reflect on how Christian people are called to embrace different values.