Advent 2 Year C

Flattened Earth, by Dennis Ormseth

Excerpt: In light of these considerations, there are at least three possibilities to consider in explanation for Luke’s Isaianic flattened earth. First, was it perhaps simply a matter of greater fidelity than Mark and Matthew to the text of Isaiah? It seems not:  we note that in the verse immediately following (v. 6), Luke leaves out Isaiah’s reference to God’s glory, in favor of a clear statement about the universal reach of the “salvation that comes from God” as something that “all flesh shall see,” a theme we have already in our comment on the readings for the First Sunday of Advent identified as significant for our concern with care of creation.

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A voice in the wilderness, by the Rev. Margaret Bullit-Jonas

Excerpt: A voice cries out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Luke 3:4). One morning this week I woke up wondering — What is the voice that cries out in the wilderness? What did Isaiah hear, what did John the Baptist hear, as they wandered in wild places, listening to wind and scrambling over rocks? Is the voice that they heard in the wilderness still speaking, and can we hear it, too? I decided that I needed to go find myself a few mountains and valleys, and a good place in which to listen.

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New Life, by Keith Innes

To live the new life (Luke 1:74-75) , ready for the coming of God (Malachi 3:1) , is God’s gift which requires our co-operation in faith and repentance (Luke 3:3-6) , as we live in his glory on earth (Baruch 5:7-9)

Life in the Athopocene, by Tom Mundahl


The reality of living in a new climate regime (labeled “anthropocene” by Earth systems scientists) intensifies our stance toward the future. Because of the Earth’s response to human release of greenhouse gases, we are learning that “in the anthropocene we may say that the present is drenched with the future…the unsettling presence of things to come” (Clive Hamilton, Defiant Earth, Cambridge: Polity, 2017, p. 132). To double down on this, Bruno Latour suggests, “we have to position ourselves as though we were at the end of time” (Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climate Regime, Cambridge: Polity, 2017, p. 213).

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Salvation history is anchored in world history, by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Salvation history is anchored in world history. It is significant for Luke not only that the word of God came to John the Baptizer, but also that it came “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee…, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.”

Here we are confronted by “the scandal of particularity.” As Luke sees it, Jesus has been made Messiah, the anointed One long promised now present. For Jesus the gospel at the heart of God’s word carries universal meaning. But amazingly, this gospel of good news for all humanity was not at first perceived and received everywhere by everyone at once. It began in a very limited space and time, unobtrusively present at first under the governance of imperial and priestly persons in high places.

Who would know at its insignificant beginning that the seed planted there in that fifteenth year of a long-forgotten Roman emperor’s rule would flower into a message significant for all time and all places? On the other hand, the more exact, concrete, specific a work of art is, the deeper and wider its significance may become. Particularity, far from being scandalous, can be the major key to universal meaning. We see that reality in Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, in Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son, in Beethoven’s Fifth Synphony…

So what was the particular seed sown there and then? Luke returns to Isaiah (as he had at 2:32) and the climatic concept of “the salvation of God” which is seen by “all flesh” (all living beings, not restricted to humanity). Our culture of individualism has grossly restricted “salvation” to individuals. In biblical thought generally, and in Luke’s thought especially, salvation is a public rather than private concept, however, one that includes political Shalom (peace) no less than religious Shalom. Salvation is a holistic concept that embraces all creation including “all peoples” (cf. Luke 2:29-32; Psalm 104).

In his great study of “the significance of the fall of Jerusalem in the synoptic gospels” Lloyd Gaston repeatedly emphasizes the political content of the gospel. At one point he states: “A community characterized as a perfect harmony of free persons with their Lord and with one another is a political as well as a religious goal. This political goal of peace among the nations is an important part of the eschatological hope of Israel, in which the Messiah (Isaiah 9:2-7; Zechariah 9:9f; Micah 5:5) rules over a peaceful paradise (Isaiah 2:2-4=Mic 4:1-4). The proclamation to Israel during the first century that such a long-promised goal had become a reality could not possibly ignore the troubled political situation of the time. The redemption which the Messiah has come to bring to Israel will mean peace for all Israel and peace between Israel and the nations.” [Gaston, No Stone On Another (Supplements to Novum Testamentum), XXIII; Leiden: EJ Brill, 1970), p. 335]

How ironic that the apparently insignificant seed of “salvation,” which appeared unnoticed by most in the First Century, carried such holistic embrace of political and religious life “saved.”