Here are questions for us to prayerfully consider as we prepare for worship this Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent. We hope you will find them a useful resource as you prepare to receive them in church.

READINGS FOR DECEMBER 8

Isaiah 11:1-10

Read this slowly and with attention to detail. How was this prophecy fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus? How is it being fulfilled on earth today in and through Christ’s community of followers, the Church? During this season of Advent, let us take time to reflect on Christ’s call to us and consider what specific actions we are called to do, especially in speaking up for justice (Isaiah 11:4).

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

This psalm may seem very political to us (it is). What does it tell us about the government’s role in the rule of justice, especially for the poor? Does it cause us to reconsider any of our beliefs or perhaps our inattention to matters of justice? This psalm may cause us to think of the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.” The refrain— “Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, We shall overcome, some day.”

Romans 15:4-13

This blessing is used for the close of Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Paul is describing the power of hope for the good of God’s people. What gives you hope today? What about hope is comforting? Strengthening? How do you share hope with others?

Matthew 3:1-12

How do you feel about John the Baptist? Are you able to see him as more than a caricature? What stands out to you in his message—and how he proclaims it? Can you imagine yourself as a religious leader (Pharisee and Sadducee) back then? What would have been your reaction to his words? What do you think John the Baptist would say if he showed up as a guest preacher at Christ Church today? How would you react when you heard him?