2nd Sunday of Advent 9.12.12 Luke 3.1-6

1 12 2012

When and What

Luke was many things: evangelist, physician, artist and writer – big time. Luke wrote about a third of the New Testament. This brief passage tells us he was also a historian. Notice how in the first verse he cross-references different histories to point to the precise moment when the word of God came to John.

Luke 3.1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection I am going to suggest three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels. You might prefer to stay in one area. But beware of staying in your comfort zone. That’s rarely where profound preaching comes from.

‘Head Questions’

  1. Why does Luke care so much about ‘when’?
  2. Why does it matter ‘where’ the word of God came to John?
  3. Why does he quote the prophet Isaiah?


‘Heart Questions’

  1. Looking back over your own life – do you ever try to cross-reference ‘when’ significant things happened?
  2. What picture does the word ‘wilderness’ paint for you? How does it make you feel?
  3. Do you prefer the straightening or levelling images of Isaiah?


‘Hand Questions’
?

  1. What moment in your life is significant enough for you to know precisely when it happened?
  2. To whom might you say something helpful about repentance?
  3. What needs to be straightened out in your life?


Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up – working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.

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1st Sunday of Advent 2.12.12 Luke 21.25-36

24 11 2012

Be Alert At All Times

This passage takes us back a fortnight. Then we were looking at the first eight verses of Mark 13. Now it is an equally worrying passage from Luke.

Welcome to Luke’s gospel, by the way. We are with Luke for a year now. (It’s not all like this.)

Luke 21.25-36

Jesus said,‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

29 Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 ‘Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection I am going to suggest three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels. You might prefer to stay in one area. But beware of staying in your comfort zone. That’s rarely where profound preaching comes from.

‘Head Questions’

  1. Who is the ‘Son of Man’?
  2. Why does Jesus not invite his hearers to consider a tree in the autumn?
  3. What do you make of Jesus’ prediction that, ‘this generation will not pass away’?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. How do you feel when caught in a storm?
  2. Do you ever get ‘weighed down with dissipation and drunkeneness’ – or is ‘worry’ more your thing?
  3. How do you feel about standing before the Son of Man?

‘Hand Questions’?

  1. Can you tell the signs of the times?
  2. How much of your life are you investing in that which will not pass away?
  3. Can you ‘be altert at all times’ over the next four weeks? ( If not, how much alertness can you expect of yourself?)

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up – working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.