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John the Baptist’s words in verse 7 strike out at the Pharisees and Sadducees of Matthew’s story with a quickness and venom fitting the snake imagery. Given only the scant background information that these religious elites are joining many going out to John to be baptized, John’s rebuke may seem...

God of Abraham and vipers, humble me. Help me to give up my false assurances and to bear fruit worthy of repentance. Amen.


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Lectionary Week
December 2–8, 2019
Scripture Overview

The readings from the Hebrew scriptures look forward to the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah describes a root from the family of Jesse, that is the family of David, that will rule fairly and usher in an age of peace. The psalmist extols the virtues of a royal son who defends the poor and the oppressed and causes righteousness and peace to abound. Christians traditionally read these psalms as prophecies about Jesus Christ. Paul in Romans quotes several prophetic passages from the Hebrew scriptures, but he begins by emphasizing that those writings were given for our instruction. Christianity without the Hebrew scriptures lacks its foundations. Just as we prepare our hearts during Advent for the arrival of the Christ child, John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus in Matthew.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 11:1-10. What appeals to you in Isaiah’s vision for The Peaceable Kingdom? What challenges you?
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19. Consider the ways you lead in your church, community, or work. How do you nurture the life God has created in these environments? How can you better lead toward God’s righteousness, justice, and peace?
Read Romans 15:4-13. How can you welcome others as Christ has welcomed you?
Read Matthew 3:1-12. How can you prepare yourself to accept a wild or risky proclamation of God’s kingdom?

Respond by posting a prayer.

To anyone considering the 2022 Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: Ask yourself if you are ready and willing to give your heart, mind, body, and soul to the experience. If you are, you will be changed in ways you may not even know you need. And it will continue to shape you into the future.” 


Learn more about Spiritual Formation in Today’s World: A One-Year Online Offering from The Academy for Spiritual Formation here.