Many of us demand to live in a “perfect” environment: free from fear of harm, and nice and quiet. Some people who spend time in Africa working on contract are glad to go “home” to the United States or Europe where “everything works,” as one of our friends said. This demand for security and peace on the part of some represents a kind of un-freedom for others.
Another un-freedom comes in the demand to live among people of our own faith and practice—or race and culture. Untold misery has been unleashed on the world because of this demand; for example, the racism of South African apartheid. Freedom for Afrikaners brought bondage to others.
How we yearn for the realization of God’s dream and will among us here on earth. The prophet Isaiah shows how God’s plan benefits all: God will be present as teacher, arbitrating peace among nations; conflict will recede. Thy kingdom come, O God. . . . please, and soon.
Can we possibly move in this direction? Our South African experience says yes! Archbishop Desmond Tutu consistently spoke nonviolence to his people in the midst of their suffering. He noted that the unrighteous and illogical nature of the apartheid state would bring about its failure. The process did not require martyrs and killing but faith in God and love and prayer for all. Tutu based his theology on the Exodus tradition: It is God who frees people from oppression. Believe in God’s plan, and work without violence to achieve it. This principle holds true for oppression related to gender, ethnicity, my demands over against yours.
May we subject ourselves to this principle now in the name of Jesus Christ and evaluate all our relationships honestly.

Lord, free me from the things that cause me to oppress others; forgive me and help me serve them with respect and love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 24:36-44

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Lectionary Week
November 21–27, 2016
Scripture Overview

Advent is a new year, new time, new life: a genuine newness wrought by God in the world. As both the pro- phetic oracle and the psalm attest, Israel hopes for justice, peace, and well-being. The biblical community knows God’s intention for these matters and trusts God’s faithful promise. Thus Advent begins in a vision of a healed alternative for the world. The New Testament readings intensify the long-standing hopes and make the promises of God immediate prospects. The intensity and present tense of New Testament faith revolve around the presence of Jesus, whose very person initiates a new beginning in the world. The church at Advent watches in order to notice where God is bringing justice, peace, and well-being.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Isaiah 2:1-5. What are your experiences of freedom and un-freedom? Consider how your demands for freedom in certain areas cause others to experience un-freedom.
• Read Psalm 122. When have you gathered for worship with a diverse community? What do you perceive as the bene ts of such a gathering?
• Read Romans 13:11-14. The writer suggests that we con- sider our salvation as a journey. Where are you along the way?
• Read Matthew 24:36-44. We are to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. How do you manifest your “readiness” for the coming of the kingdom?

Respond by posting a prayer.