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Loving God with Our Strength

The Branch - 5th Day of Advent

800px-An_oak_carving_of_the_Tree_of_Jesse_from_St_Andrews_Castle _RSM

This is a stream of conscious meditation on the scriptures for the 5th day of Advent, 2022.

There are several recurring themes. Consider who and what the branch is at how the hints and glimpses of the messianic moment reveal God's intention for humanity and this world.

If Jesus is the Branch and where are the body of Jesus in the world, are we not part of the Branch reflecting the intention and mission and presence of God in the world?

Psalm 18: Part II

Et retribuet mihi
The Lord rewarded me because of my righteous dealing; 
because my hands were clean he rewarded me;
For I have kept the ways of the Lord 

and have not offended against my God;
For all his judgments are before my eyes, 

and his decrees I have not put away from me;
For I have been blameless with him 

and have kept myself from iniquity;
Therefore the Lord rewarded me according to my righteous dealing, 

because of the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
With the faithful you show yourself faithful, O God; 

with the forthright you show yourself forthright.
With the pure you show yourself pure, 

but with the crooked you are wily.
You will save a lowly people, 

but you will humble the haughty eyes.
You, O Lord, are my lamp; 

my God, you make my darkness bright.
With you I will break down an enclosure; 

with the help of my God I will scale any wall.
As for God, his ways are perfect;
the words of the Lord are tried in the fire; 

he is a shield to all who trust in him.
For who is God, but the Lord

who is the Rock, except our God?
It is God who girds me about with strength 

and makes my way secure.
He makes me sure-footed like a deer 

and lets me stand firm on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle 

and my arms for bending even a bow of bronze.
You have given me your shield of victory; 

your right hand also sustains me;
your loving care makes me great.
You lengthen my stride beneath me, 

and my ankles do not give way.
I pursue my enemies and overtake them; 

I will not turn back till I have destroyed them.
I strike them down, and they cannot rise; 

they fall defeated at my feet.
You have girded me with strength for the battle; 

you have cast down my adversaries beneath me;
you have put my enemies to flight.
I destroy those who hate me;
they cry out, but there is none to help them; 

they cry to the Lord, but he does not answer.
I beat them small like dust before the wind; 

I trample them like mud in the streets.
You deliver me from the strife of the peoples; 

you put me at the head of the nations.
A people I have not known shall serve me;
no sooner shall they hear than they shall obey me; 

strangers will cringe before me.
The foreign peoples will lose heart; 

they shall come trembling out of their strongholds.
The Lord lives!  Blessed is my Rock! *

Exalted is the God of my salvation!
He is the God who gave me victory 

and cast down the peoples beneath me.
You rescued me from the fury of my enemies;
you exalted me above those who rose against me; 

you saved me from my deadly foe.
Therefore will I extol you among the nations, O Lord

and sing praises to your Name.
He multiplies the victories of his king; 
he shows loving-kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants for ever.
 

Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness
    and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
                Amen and Amen.

 
Isaiah 2:12-22

For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. The haughtiness of people shall be humbled, and the pride of everyone shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. The idols shall utterly pass away. Enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. On that day people will throw away to the moles and to the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts in the crags, from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Turn away from mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils, for of what account are they? 

Isaiah 4:2-6

On that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed, over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Luke 20:27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive." Then some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you have spoken well." For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

 Acts 1:12-17, 21-26

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers and sisters (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Brothers and sisters, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus, for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”

“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”

And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was added to the eleven apostles.

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. 

For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain. But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us-- just as we long to see you. For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

 
 

 

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