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Sister Sara Says

Resources for ministry, and musings of a Deaconess.

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Lectionary Year A Devotions

Wrong Place… Right Time?

3rd Sunday in Advent Isaiah 35:1-10

This passage doesn’t belong here. Isaiah is a fascinating book with rich poetry and history, and is generally split into at least two parts, possibly even three. The first part consists of a lot of warnings of what will happen to various rulers and kingdoms. Isaiah 34 is all about destruction. And then Isaiah 35 pops in.

It shouldn’t be here

It doesn’t go chronologically with the first part of Isaiah, it seems to be speaking to a people already in exile in Babylon, ready to return home. Its a poem of great hope and joy, perfect for Joy Sunday of Advent.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom abundantly”

Isaiah 35:1-2

I think about God’s joy as something that is unable to be contained, it can’t even be contained in scripture! It breaks through where it isn’t supposed to be. Flowers in the desert. Pools instead of burning sand. A highway of joy and gladness where sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Where are you finding God’s joy breaking through? Where are the places where we have decided joy shouldn’t be, and yet we find it anyway? Keep watching in this season of waiting, for they joy that breaks through, in the wrong place at the right time

And YOU Shall Name Him Jesus

4th Sunday of Advent Year A, Matthew 1:18-25.

Many of us are pretty familiar with the story of the Holy Family by now. The story of angelic pronouncements, decisions to be made, and a new family formed. One character in this familial tale that sometimes gets glossed over is that of Joseph.

We know about how righteous Joseph was, that he married Mary anyway, and that he was a carpenter. But an often overlooked part of the story is this.

1:21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus

Joseph names the infant Messiah Jesus. This might seem strange to us, but under the law, Joseph naming Jesus meant he claimed him. He was legally his child. Joseph was claiming Jesus as his own. This is huge.

He didn’t have to do this. He could have gone on with his plan to let Mary go quietly, and his reputation would have stayed in tact. But people would talk, and I’m sure they talked plenty. They would guess that this child wasn’t really his, but he claimed him anyway.

What a message of grace and love from such an overlooked character! To take a child and claim him as his own. Sounds a lot like what happens to us in baptism. God names us and claims us as God’s own. We can learn a lot from Joseph, the father of Christ.

Shalom.

Justice for the Poor

2nd Sunday in Advent Psalm 72:1-7 18,19 (Photo of Sister Ramona Navarro and Candidate Katie Thiesen at a protest in Washington DC)

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

Our culture has taught us to get really caught up on certain aspects of faith. I’m not even going to name them, because you know what they are. They are the political hot points. The things that make the news. The things that get people so fired up they are willing to unfriend church folk over it.

But you know what scripture talks about hundreds of times, almost as if God and Jesus were really serious about it? The poor. We are to care for the poor and the needy. We are to see to the needs of the widow, orphan, and prisoner.

Sometimes it feels like we’ve lost that fire to do something about poverty in our world. We’ve been fed a lie about why people are poor, and that they need to stay that way. I don’t believe that’s true. I echo the cry of the psalmist in our scripture for this week, that our leaders might champion the cause of the poor, and seek justice for the oppressed.

In 2022 I completed my journey to become a Sister in the Deaconess Community of the ELCA . I am blessed to be a part of this intentional community of women who have worked for more than a century in serving those in need. At our 2019 assembly, pre pandemic, the Deaconess Community voted to endorse the Poor People’s Campaign in an effort to do more to effect change in our world.

I have been blessed and challenged by the work of the Poor People’s Campaign. I participate when I can, through advocacy in my local area, and support Sisters who attend protests and marches in support of our siblings in poverty.

So how will you champion the cause of the poor among us? I hope its through checking out what your local Poor People’s Campaign is doing and serving the cause. But if not, do something. Advent is about waiting, but the poor can’t wait forever.

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