Advent 4 December 21, 2008 Scripture Introductions by Stewart ClarkeOur first reading is from the Second book of Samuel.  The stress of the time of the Judges is behind them. The civil war between the forces of Saul and of David, even while they were confronting the armies of the Philistines, is over. The country, which , for generations, had been divided, north and south, is finally united under King David. Now, with Jerusalem furbished as the capital, and a palace built for the king, is it time for a Temple as the centre for the worship of the Lord (or "Adonai")? It would be a fine political as well as religious move. (Is the image of the Ark in a tent parallel to the image of the Christ child in a manger?) Let us listen as Nathan, prophet of the Lord, deals with King David in: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 You may want to reserve your thanks and praise until after the Gospel reading, or use a general response after each reading, or, perhaps, use your own words, such as: May we hear God speaking through present day prophets and messengers, Amen.
Instead of a Psalm, we have Mary's song, the "Magnificat," in which she exults in God's message. Her song is also a proposal of social revolution, a message of hope for oppressed people, and challenge to the status quo, and an introduction to or foundation for Jesus' focus on the poor. . Let us. ..... Luke 1:47-55
The reading in the Epistle is Paul's conclusion to his carefully reasoned letter introducing and explaining his Christology to the Roman Church. He ends with this prose song of praise to God Romans 16:25-27 May these words empower us to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ, Amen!
The Gospel reading takes us beyond mere history, though we have been reminded that history may be prophetic, and that God speaks through events. This reading illustrates, in story form, that Jesus lived in a human setting, but is, for us, both humanity at its highest and divinity at its closest. In this passage, Mary receives a message from God, and responds obediently. We traditionally read her response in terms of humble, even meek acceptance. It can equally be heard as awed enthusiasm. (I think of her response as the equivalent of "Yeah! God!!") Let us rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in: (Or: Let us listen intently for the Good News for us in: ) Luke 1:26-38 May we, like Mary, respond to God with an enthusiastic yes! Amen. It is appropriate to follow the readings with words of praise and thanks.Notes:
- With thanks to CAM and EMC.
- In the Hebrew Scriptures, First and Second Samuel follow the book of Judges, and are among the books of Prophecy, reflecting the belief that God speaks in events or history.
- His reasoned understanding of the place and message of Jesus, the Christ.
(Comments to Stew at firstname.lastname@example.org.)