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"After Sunday worship I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week. Worship calms me and makes me want to be a more giving and forgiving person."

 

 "I am here to share my soul, body, and mind with our bigger family who shares our worship to God and the entire universe.  This is my worship experience at church."

 

Worship at FCC Essex follows a traditional liturgy, but God still speaks to the world today from these ancient words and rituals as if they were new.  Music and spirit and art and words and silence center us and inform us.  Our style of worship brings comfort, soothes the spirit, challenges the mind, strengthens our love of each other, and empowers us for doing good in the world.

We worship at 10:00 am.

Other special services of worship are celebrated throughout the year during Advent (Christmas) and Lent, as well as ecumenical events with other churches in Essex and within the UCC.

 

 

December 8, 2019

Second Sunday in Advent

 

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-7,18-19
Romans 15:4-13
Matthew 3:1-12

 

 

Reflection on Isaiah 11:1-10
by Kathryn Matthews

This week's passage, or poem, from the prophet Isaiah is even more powerful when read in its setting: at the end of chapter ten, the prophet Isaiah says that God is going to cut down all the trees; that's why there's "a stump" when this passage begins. It's not accidental, or random, and it's not just sitting there; it's the result of God's sweeping movement across the land.

Walter Brueggemann casts the scene as a great struggle, a "deep conflict and contest" between the stump (Israel's political situation), and God's spirit, the power beneath "the religious yearning of Israel" (Texts for Preaching A).

Not a pretty picture

It's also not a pretty picture--the stump appears beyond life and hope; Mary Hinkle Shore calls it "the result of the Almighty's plan for clear-cutting." We know that clear-cutting looks stark and ugly, but it's a good way for the prophet to get the people's attention.

Then, just when things appear to be at their worst, Isaiah holds out hope by speaking of a new shoot from that forlorn, pathetic stump (New Proclamation Year A 2007-8).

A time of total disarray

We aren't sure whether this text dates from the time of the threat from the Assyrians (8th c. BCE) or from the Babylonians (6th c. BCE), but in any case, the political situation of the people of Israel is in total disarray.

Into this setting, just when things appear hopeless and the future looks bleak, the prophet utters a most amazing promise, that God will send a king, from the great and glorious line of Jesse, who will rule with wisdom, with justice toward all and with mercy toward the most vulnerable in society.

The little ones, the defenseless ones, the innocent ones will be protected and cared for. Isaiah urges the people to remember who they are as the people of God, reminding them that their power, their life, comes from goodness, not from greed.

Can this really be?

The promises Isaiah speaks are astounding, almost unbelievable: the order of nature that we all learned about in science class, the violence of predators that we accept as natural, will be overturned. According to Clark Williamson and Ronald Allen, this text "looks forward to a time when there will be no more killing"; they note, however, that "[t]his is very much a season of Advent rather than arrival" (Preaching the Old Testament: A Lectionary Commentary).

In that great day, the rules of life will be changed, bent in the direction of gentleness and peace, not just any peace, but shalom. "Shalom," Walter Brueggemann says, "is creation time, when all God's creation eases up on hostility and destruction and finds another way of relating" (Peace)


Read the scriptures and this entire reflection here.


 

 

First Congregational Church in Essex

United Church of Christ

6 Methodist Hill

Essex, Connecticut 06426

phone:  860-767-8097

office@essexucc.org