Sunday's Scripture Readings
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Lesson - Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they
continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year
described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord,
announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who
1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has
anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the
prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance
of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in
Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of
mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called
oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 4 They
shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many
generations. 8 For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and
wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an
everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants shall be known among the
nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall
acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. 10 I will greatly
rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed
me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of
righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride
adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will
cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
The Lord has
done great things for us. (Ps. 126:3)
Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for
them." The Lord has done great things for us, and we
rejoiced. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in
the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with
shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging
them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing
blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.
always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all
circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets,
but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from
every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you
entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is
faithful, and he will do this.
- John 1:6-8, 19-28
John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John
the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away
from himself to Christ, the true light.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through
him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and
Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?" He
confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah."
And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He
said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered,
"No." Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us
have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make
straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him,
"Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah,
nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with
water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is
coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal."
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.