Bible readings for Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019

The First Reading, recorded in Isaiah 11:1-10, is a passage filled with hope in the Messianic future, when Jesus returns as Lord and Savior at the End of Time. He is the shoot and branch from the stump of Jesse. Notice in vs. 2 that the future Messiah is filled with the Holy Spirit, and what the Spirit does in Him. Do these words sound familiar? They are part of the Baptismal liturgy.
Notice the coming of peace through the Messiah, even the danger of predatory animals will come to an end, and peace will reign through Jesus. Let us take comfort in, and look forward to, the complete fulfilling of Isaiah’s prophecy through Jesus.
Holy Lord Jesus, keep us firm in You as the Prince of Peace, trusting in the future peace You will bring when You return. Amen.

The psalm is recorded in Psalm 72:1-7. This is an ancient psalm, having been written about 3,000 years ago, yet it is as fresh and relevant as if it had been written yesterday. This is a great prayer to pray for all the elected officials of our land; may the LORD lead, guide and make all of our leaders to be wise and just.
Lord God, King and sovereign over all, lead, guide, give wisdom to, and enable our leaders to act with justice. Enable the leaders of our nation, and all nations, to be servants who will work for the well-being of all, and who look to You for wisdom, guidance, and compassion. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

The Second Reading is recorded in Romans 15:4-13. Notice the high regard for the Old Testament in Paul’s mind: it was written for our instruction, leading us to hope. As we read and study the Old Testament, we see God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, and His faithfulness leads us to trust Him. Notice also that God leads us into His community where we give Him honor, praise, glory, and thanks. The community of God, the Church, is for all people; let us be open to the Lord and to all whom He calls into worship and service here.
Bind us together Lord with the love of Jesus, causing us to glorify and praise you in word and deed. Amen.

The Gospel is recorded in Matthew 3:1-12. There’s no chance of missing John the Baptist! He called people to repentance and to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Notice also that he didn’t sugar coat his message, he even took on the religiously self-righteous, calling them poisonous snakes and not any better than a pile of rocks. Why did John do all this? Because God loves us and wants to free us from sin; sometimes that call to turn from sin is an in-your-face challenge, like John did to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Let us heed John’s exhortation: let us pause, reevaluate our lives and our need of repentance, and let us look to Jesus Who has won forgiveness for us through His death and resurrection.
Holy Spirit, look into our hearts, enable us to know our need of repentance and forgiveness, and turn our eyes to Jesus’ cross and resurrection in faith. Give us the hope and assurance that You lead us and keep us firm in faith in Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.

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