ADVENT: Ready to See

Our Advent readings seem like they could have come from our current news feeds. Present life raises a cry for broken humanity to be healed. In our global and local anguish, we long to see the tender words of Advent—hope, peace, joy and love—made manifest. We are ready to receive revelation, to see justice come that raises up low places and levels arrogant high places. Advent assures us that God works beyond the place I’m standing today. Comfort, O Comfort my people! These are words for threshold moments, for instances in which we long to move through the current places and events of our lives and to be carried along by both God’s reality present to us now, and his promise to come again. We long to live in a secure kingdom. We search for a word that will last forever. This word, is of course, Jesus Christ. He is the brightest of all possible dawns. “Yes! Come Lord Jesus! This Advent we open ourselves to see you.”

Season of Easter Readings: Sunday, May 11

Reading:  1 Peter 2:19-25 and John 10:1-10

Reflection Questions:

  1. Begin by listening to the Good Shepherd’s voice from our Gospel reading in John 10:1-10. What encouragements do you hear? What assurances can you grasp and cling to? What care for your soul might you receive from Jesus today as you listen to the way he describes himself as your Shepherd and life-giver?
  2. Peter expands the metaphor of the Good Shepherd to Guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:25). What does the picture of a guardian convey to you?  How does it broaden your understanding of the kind of care Jesus invites his friends into? Considering your own past life experiences, how has Jesus’ guardianship of your soul been realized in your life? Were their times or circumstances you felt abandoned or unattended to?  Take a few moments to talk honestly to God about these things.
  3. Now, consider your current circumstances or inner posture and attitude. What are you presently experiencing externally (with work, family, personal life) and internally (stress, anger, frustration, pressure, duress or a low grade worry)? What do you do when you sense yourself suffering? Who do you turn to for help in trials?
  4. How does Peter’s view of suffering help you process and think about your own sufferings (1 Peter 2:19-25)?  Peter points to Jesus in order for us to gaze upon his stripes, his wounds, his suffering. Take a few moments in silence to focus your gaze upon Jesus. What do his wounds, his sufferings say to you? Ask him for help in your trials, comfort in your sorrows, or a change of perspective in your circumstances that you might bear up under the stresses of this life…even as Jesus bore his cross and endured his sufferings.

Season of Easter Readings: Sunday, May 4

Readings:  1 Peter 1:17-23 and John Luke 24:13-35

Reflection Questions:

  • From our previous reading in the Peter’s letter (1:3-9) we’ve been reminded that we are born again to a living hope because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  In other words, we have been ushered into a new kind of life with new focus, future, family identity and inheritance. In verses 1:17-19, Peter reminds us of the cost of our new lives in Christ. Take a few moments to reflect on the cost of this holy transaction. What rises in your heart, what thoughts occur to you as a response to the way you were redeemed?  Offer to God words, expressions of that response.
  • How might your life become a living response to God as you reflect on the saving graces of God through Christ? Think about creative ways you might practice remembrance of Christ’s resurrection each day as you travel through the liturgical Season of Easter.
  • Peter’s imperative to love one another is not a novel command. Our Lord Jesus condensed the whole Law of God into two commands: Love God and love others as he has loved you. Loving others is not often an easy thing to do. What encouragement do you find for help to love others as Jesus loved you from Peter’s analogy of God’s seed implanted in our hearts and his living Word given to us (vs.22-23)?

Eugene Peterson in The Message describes 1 Peter 1:22-25 like this:

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth,
love one another as if your lives depended on it.
Your new life is not like your old life.
Your old birth came from mortal sperm;
your new birth comes from God’s living Word.
Just think: a life conceived by God himself!
That’s why the prophet said,

The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.

This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.

  • Walk with Jesus for a few moments as he engages discouraged, hopeless disciples on the Emmaus road (turn to Luke 24:13-35 and read the Resurrection narrative). How are the disciples changed by their discreet encounter with the Risen Lord of Life? How might you experience a change of heart and blossoming hope as you continue to walk with Jesus, listening to his Word and breaking bread in fellowship with him and other believers?