Thursday, December 28, 2006

First Sunday after Christmas, Year C: Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3

The appointed lesson for this Sunday is Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3. If you enjoy the sheer beauty of Christmas season, this text is for you!

Isaiah 61:10-11
Tapestry by my student, N. Hawthorne

At the heart of Isaiah 40-66 lies God's wonder-filled purpose to show forth the divine majesty through God's people, endowing them with God's glory and royal beauty. What an honor and a hope of ennoblement for us! The redeemed people of God, God's true Israel and royal image, is destined to bear and display God's majestic splendor.

This is not a new plan of God, but part of God's purpose from creation when God made human beings in the image of God. The imago dei of each of us is all about God's intended majesty for us. Note the majestic, royal language here in 62:3. In God's ideal world, God's people are God's "crown of beauty" and "royal diadem."
Verse 2 of our text reads, "The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory." Royal glory is not for God's people alone, but is a beacon for the world. Zion's salvation is meant as a "burning torch," a righteousness that "goes forth like brightness."
From the beginning, according to Isa 40–66, God created Israel as an expression of divine glory (Isa 43:7; 62:2; cf. 44:1–2), a bearer of royal beauty and dignity among earth’s nations (Isa 45:14; 49:23; 54:3, 17; 60:14). This honor has the ultimate purpose of attracting outsiders to Israel’s divine lord (e.g., Isa 44:5; 45:14, 22; 48:20).

In Isaiah 55:4-5, the royal splendor of God’s newly redeemed servants becomes a "witness to the peoples" of the world, on a par with the witness of King David in the psalms (Pss 72:15–17; 89:25, 27, 36–37). Israel’s beatification provokes a jubilant pilgrimage of nations to Zion!
This is the "missionary" / "evangelistic" emphasis that is apparent in the pericope at hand. At Christmas season we are called to let God's splendor flash forth like brightness and evoke the yearnings of all earth's peoples.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Chuck H said...

Stephen,

According to the RCL per http://divinity.library.vanderbilt.edu/lectionary/CChristmas/index.htm
- the readings are:
First Sunday after Christmas Day
December 31, 2006
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 Psalm 148 Colossians 3:12-17 Luke 2:41-52

Adele is pleased since her parish is using -->
Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Galatians 3:23-25;4:4-7
John 1:1-18
Psalm 147 or 147:13-21

Thanks again for all your great work.
Happy New Year!
C & A

Thu Dec 28, 09:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Chuck, and Best New Year's Wishes! Yes, this coming Sunday is confusing. I made the initial decision to go with Isaiah, since the Satucket Lectionary site states: "The new ECUSA RCL lectionary does not use the RCL readings for this day [1 Christmas, Year C], but retains the traditional ECUSA readings." I'm glad Adele is using the Isaiah passage, and would love to have her post some thoughts on the text here when she gets a chance. Meanwhile, would other readers like me to open a discussion of the 1 Samuel text? Please let me know what would be helpful, and I'll see what I can do. Peace, ---SLC

Thu Dec 28, 09:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Chuck H said...

Thanks! I am glad I saw your blog & notes BEFORE I started a sermon! The readings were not what I thought!
Peace & Blessings - Chuck

Thu Dec 28, 11:48:00 AM GMT-5  

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