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The Bulletin Insert Sunday 11th December, 2016 Advent 3 Year A The Healing Power of Joy

Lismore Anglican Parish Bulletin Insert   Sunday 11th December 2016  

The Healing Power of Joy

Joy is seldom recognised for the incredibly restorative, liberating force that it is. Unfortunately, even in faith communities, soberness, seriousness, and even cynicism are often portrayed as the marks of true spirituality and maturity. The Lectionary this week challenges that thinking, and calls us to consider joy as the mark of true faith, of spiritual maturity, and of true justice. If our work for justice and peace, for compassion and grace brings no joy – to us or to those we serve – we do not really bring liberation. But, when we can dance and sing, and draw others into the celebration, we have truly become life-givers, and reflections of the Christ who was not only a man of sorrows, but also a man of celebration and joy. Let’s fill our sanctuaries, our homes and our world with singing and celebration this week, and let’s rediscover the healing power of joy as we await the joyous incarnation event.   Adapted from http://sacredise.com/lectionary/2016/12/advent-3a/#more-274

 

 

Isaiah 35:1-10 God’s promise to restore God’s people, creating a land of peace and prosperity for them, and providing a safe and sure way for them to return home, guaranteeing their arrival in God’s Zion where they will find gladness, joy and an end to their suffering.

 

351The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

Psalm 146:5-10 A celebration of the God who helps those in need – the poor, the blind, the prisoner, the bent over, the widow, the orphan – and who trips the wicked up.

 

James 5:7-10 James encourages the believers to be patient as they wait for God’s coming, even as the farmer waits for rain, and as the prophets of old faithfully endured their suffering with patience.

 

7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

 

Matthew 11:2-11 John the Baptist sends his disciples to question whether Jesus is the One or if he should wait for another, and Jesus assures him with the example of his ministry of liberation, healing and proclaiming the Good News. Then he teaches about John’s role, explaining that, as great as he was, those who embrace God’s reign are greater still.

 

2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” 7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.