Sunday, December 12, 2021

Advent 4C Readings with Commentary

Collect of the Day

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1st Reading:  Micah 5:2-5a

Micah was active as a prophet in the 8th century bce. during the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah, although this latter part of the book may date from the later exile.  The vision is of a restored monarchy in the line of David, hence the importance of Bethlehem.  Christians have read this text as a prophecy of the Messiah.

5:2 But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. 3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth; 5 and he shall be the one of peace.

Psalm 80:1-7

Our psalm today is a communal lament, calling on God as Shepherd to deliver the people from their enemies.  It follows on the first reading in that it invokes the shepherd image, with Bethlehem in the first reading being the home of the Shepherd King, David.


1 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock; *
        shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

2 In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, *
        stir up your strength and come to help us.

3 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
        show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts, *
        how long will you be angered
        despite the prayers of your people?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears; *
        you have given them bowls of tears to drink.

6 You have made us the derision of our neighbors, *
        and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; *
        show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

 Or this

 Song of Mary:  Magnificat

Our psalm today is Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s song upon hearing the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary’s song closely parallels that of her ancestor Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10).  She sings of a world turned upside down as her own world has been.  She sings also in the past tense, as if justice has already come.  This text is Canticle 15 from The Book of Common Prayer.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
    for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
    The Almighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him *
    in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm, *
    he has scattered the proud in their conceit,

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
    and lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, *
    and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
    for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise made to our fathers, *
    to Abraham and his children for ever.

2nd Reading:  Hebrews 10:5-10

In this passage the author of Hebrews uses Psalm 40:7-9 to illustrate how the coming of Christ into the world has led to salvation for all. This text reminds us of the connection between Christmas and Good Friday/Easter.  The one leads necessarily to the other.

10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’ (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” 8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel:  Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

Our Gospel reading is the account of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.  The words of Elizabeth serve to confirm the announcement of the angel Gabriel.  The babe leaps in Elizabeth’s womb reminding us that John is subservient to Jesus.

1:39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

[46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”]

The Scripture quotations (except for the Song of Mary) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  All rights reserved.  The Collect of the Day and the Song of Mary translation are from The Book of Common Prayer.  Commentaries are copyright © 2021 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. All rights reserved. Permission is given to copy for congregational use.

No comments:

Post a Comment