Revised Common Lectionary

Bearing the 'Wait' of the World

The Word of God is steadfast and faithful. This is the promise and the witness of scripture. We are called to remember this promise. God is active in history and in our local and global communities, offering mercy that both comforts and baffles us. The Word of God speaks of restoration. It lives fully into its covenantal relationships. It offers a peace too deep and wide for anything less than poetry to hint at it. The Word of God is the stuff of visions and dreams. It is the calling of prophets. It is the witness of disciples. It fosters unlikely relationships. It is a transformation that requires patience and painful self-assessment. The Word invites us to mimic God’s healing care. It is for us and beyond us. It extends to those we would rather not think about or be concerned with. The Word of God is the fulfillment of all hope, all longing, and all waiting. As such, this Word demands preparation.

In the season of Advent we dwell on what it means to bear the “wait” of the Word. What does preparation look like? How do we encourage one another to wait faithfully? How do we receive God’s comfort when it may not seem like enough for our present circumstances? What or whom are we tempted to mistake for the Light because we are so desperate to be restored from an illness so few of us even recognize we have?

Enuma Okoro, of Durham, North Carolina, is the author of Reluctant Pilgrim and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

[December 4]
A Posture of Waiting
Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13;
2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8

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With the Eyes of Our Hearts

The journey of faith is long and full of forked roads. Every attempt at faithful living is a response to God’s initial invitation. But the life of faith will always require certain choices. We have personal and communal responsibilities to live into. Do we choose to be foolish or wise, living prepared lives or unprepared lives, sleeping through God’s activity or wide awake and ready to join in God’s work? Every day we choose between life and death, recalling God’s steadfastness, relying on God’s grace, and remembering God’s justice.

An eschatological thread runs through this month’s texts. We celebrate the end of the liturgical year on the feast of Christ the King. We begin a season of active preparation for the coming of God, while at the same time God is actively calling out the faithful. God chooses us. But our choices matter as well. How do we choose to respond in faith to the life God continually offers us? What do we worship? What do we choose to remember? Where do we choose to place our hope?

Often when we hear the word “choice” we also hear the word “individual.” However, to choose wisely means putting our focus on the wider community. Choosing wisely means recognizing our status as “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) and constantly negotiating within varied contexts what it means to live in the light of Christ.

Enuma Okoro, of Durham, North Carolina, is the author of Reluctant Pilgrim and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

[ November 6 ]
Bound to Serve
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 70
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13

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Going Public with God's Good News

Faith leads us into the abyss of death, and these lectionary readings are honest about that journey. It is the death faced by Jesus when he was executed by the empire, the death to which the church is called. Good Friday is about the losses that go with that contradiction.

But the texts are also hope-filled about a move out of that abyss into God’s gift of new life. As Easter is the new life given to Christ, so Easter is the new life offered to the church—and eventually to the world. The crisis among us now in our society is that the new life to which we are called, one of generous hospitality, is not like the old life we have lost. The new life—filled with joy and shaped like forgiveness—is one of demanding resolve and fidelity.

Walter Brueggemann, a Sojourners contributing editor, is professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

[April 3]
Light in a Dark Valley
1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

We live, from time to time, in “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). That valley in many forms is marked by risk and threat. But in every such valley we are kept safe, because God has the capacity to guard, protect, and eventually make new. By the end of the psalm, the speaker is safe in God’s “goodness and mercy” (verse 6).

That transformative power of God—to make safe, to fill cups, to set tables (Psalm 23:4-5)—is evident in our two narratives. The prophet Samuel finds a new king for Israel, David, on whom God’s spirit rushes, an act that creates a new possibility for Israel. More spectacular is the healing of the blind man in the gospel narrative. The man bears witness to the power of God to overcome blindness and create new possibility.

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