Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. It’s Advent, day nine.
Readings: Isaiah 5:8-12, 18-23; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Luke 21:20-28
Sin and consequences--don't the two seem a natural pair? The preacher reminds us there are consequences for sin. Your momma told you there were consequences for sin. The horror movies of the 1980s led you to the conclusion that premarital sex led to a machete beheading--sin and consequences, see.
Today's lectionary reading from Isaiah is odd. There are sins listed, yes, but where are the consequences? Read the list of Isaiah's Ahs.
Ah, you who amass houses and lands and squeeze out the impoverished and disadvantaged.
Ah, you who party from sunup to sundown, you who drink, drink, drink with no eye to the future.
Ah, you who lie about the state of your soul, who cover your sin by saying, "See God's work in my life?"
Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes;
Ah, you who are heroic in your drunkenness, who are blind to the guilt of the guilty, who deprive the innocent of rights.
It is a passage of exposition, leaving the reader naked in his or her own hypocrisy. Don't you see yourself in this scripture? Can't you identify your own greed, drunkenness, hypocrisy, false wisdom, or participation in injustice? Do you see the ways in which you wear the beer goggles of humanity? Aren't you and I drunk on something, stumbling sideways and falling under the Ahs of the prophet? And if you do not see yourself here, consider this: are you suffering under the weight of your own pride?
In today's companion reading in Thessalonians, Paul warns us against continuing in these Ahs. He asks us to prepare for the coming of the Christ.
"But you, Beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you all are children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober...."
It's Advent, day nine. Are you preparing for the King's return?
***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***