The First Sunday of Advent, 29 November 2009
This is a series that appears in the weekly Newsletter of Trinity Church; designed to get you ready to hear the lessons at next Sunday’s liturgy. Your suggestions and comments are most welcome.
- Fr. Michael T. Hiller
I Thessalonians 3:9-13
Saint Luke 21:25-36
BEFORE WE BEGIN – ABOUT SAINT LUKE
In the three-year lectionary, the three cycles are largely devoted to one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) with John being shared by all the cycles. In cycle B, which we have just left, the year was devoted to readings from the Gospel of Saint Mark. In the new cycle, which we are now entering, cycle C, the Gospels will be from the Gospel of Saint Luke. Here are some things to look forward to as we read from the Gospel:
This is the longest of the Gospels, and is one of the Synoptic (“with one eye”) Gospels (Matthew and Mark being the others). It is written from a Gentile perspective, and is addressed, along with its companion volume, Acts, to a person named Theophilus. The book was probably written sometime late in the First Century, perhaps after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans in 70 CE. The sources that underlie the book are The Gospel of Mark, which supplies a great deal of the chronology, and a theoretical source called “The Sayings Gospel”, or “Q” (from the German word quelle, or “source) for the sayings of Jesus.
Luke is best known for its Birth Narrative, which is known by most people. The Gospel of Luke places no small emphasis on poverty, and the status of women (this is especially true in Acts), and other oppressed groups. Often, characters in the book will break into song, which are the sources for the canticles sung at Evensong, and Morning Prayer. Other themes include the Holy Spirit, prayer, and joyfulness. As we move through the liturgical year, I will write more about Luke and his strong theology of inclusion. There are a couple of interesting traditions about Luke. One is that he was a physician – hence the name of hospitals (our own Saint Luke’s being an example). Another tradition is that he was a painter, who painted an icon of Our Lady.
The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is from Jeremiah, a prophet who was active ca. 626 – 587 BCE. He was active during the reign of King Josiah, who engineered a huge religious reform during his rule. Jeremiah was also present during the assault on Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and was exiled to Egypt following the fall of Jerusalem. He was opposed to most of the political solutions of his day, and provided an individualistic and spiritual cast to his theology.
Psalm 25 is an acrostic – the initial letter of each verse spelling out the Hebrew alphabet – only one letter is missing – the “q”. It is a David psalm.
First Thessalonians, a letter from Saint Paul to the Christians in Thessalonica, is the first piece of Christian literature to be written that is still extant. It was written around 52 CE, from Corinth. The content and style matches other Pauline works.
For notes on the Gospel of Luke, see the introduction above.