A Thrill of Hope in a Weary World | Sojourners

A Thrill of Hope in a Weary World

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A.

CHRISTMAS OFFERS AN opportunity to reflect on how well we know Jesus as he would want to be known. Can we be the kind of Jesus followers we should be without an adequate understanding of who Jesus really is? Only a good grasp of who Jesus is offers a solid foundation for our worship and service in the new year.

For many, this Christmas Jesus is a beautiful baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes, sleeping in a trough on a bed of straw, as farm animals and shepherds look on pensively. Another common scene of tranquility is one of the baby Jesus in the arms of his mother Mary—the Madonna and child portrait so prominent throughout church history. In many ways, these depictions are appropriate for the Christmas season, but there is a potential problem. For many, these are the defining images of Jesus: helpless, dependent, silent.

This is not at all the person of the Messiah who is announced in the Old Testament. What was the expectation that gripped the Jewish people for centuries? What was the Coming One to do? How would he change the world as they knew it? How can he change the world as we know it?

These readings explore prophetic passages that describe the One who was to come. How does the New Testament celebrate Jesus as that long-expected Messiah? How can his coming help us to live out our faith well?

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