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Sunday of the Second Week of Advent | Chris McCullough

Sunday of the Second Week of Advent                          December 8

Scripture: Is. 11: 1-10; Rom. 15: 4 - 9; Mt. 3: 1 - 12

On this second Sunday of Advent, Isaiah gives us a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the first reading.  He says, “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.” (11: 2).  These gifts are those found in a Messiah, the one that John the Baptist proclaims in the gospel, incidentally.  The Messiah to come will usher in the peace imagined by Isaiah.  It is an ultimate peace which reflects the triumph of God’s kingdom.  

This is a time of fulfillment where impossible things happen like lions lying down with lambs and babies playing next to cobras.  It is an idyllic vision which is realized at the end of time.  And in contrast we have John the Baptist who points to a beginning, that of Jesus’ ministry.   It is an interesting contrast, and yet, in Jesus beginning and end are held together.  The incarnation heralds a special place in salvation history.  In Jesus we have the beginning of the establishment of the kingdom of God here on earth and the end of sin and death.  

In reading Isaiah’s description of the gifts of the Spirit, I think of our confirmation candidates whose Connect Night was on the gifts of the Holy Spirit last week.  They will complete their initiation this spring and enter the fullness of the life of discipleship, following this legacy that Jesus the Messiah initiates.   They will be called to join the work of establishing God’s kingdom of peace and justice.  

What I am aware of is that they may not fully understand all that they are being initiated into.  I certainly did not, but that’s okay.  The onus is not on them.  Like Jesus’ Apostles and us, they will need to trust the activity of the Spirit living within them.  The Spirit is their instructor and just like with us, will lead them and teach them.   First John tells us, “As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you.But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false” (1 Jn. 2:27).  May we be open to that teaching.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, as we journey through this Advent, help us to be aware of the Spirit’s activity within us.  Help us to listen to all that the Spirit may wish to teach us.  May we desire to be drawn into deeper relationship with you. Amen. 

-Chris McCullough