In our scripture reading for today, the psalmist remembers a moment when the people of God were filled with laughter because God had restored them to the Promised Land after years of exile. They were laughing with gratitude and joy. There’s something about laughter that is healing and even holy....

O God, thank you for being with us in all things. Help us call to mind those moments when you brought us laughter. Help us to trust you in harder times, knowing that you love us and are leading us toward you. Amen.


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Lectionary Week
December 11–17, 2023
Scripture Overview

Isaiah speaks of the day in which God’s Anointed One (Messiah) will bring good news to the poor and hope to the oppressed. Jesus will later read this passage and declare it to be about himself (Luke 4), so we read Isaiah’s prophecy during Advent. The psalmist rejoices that God has restored the fortunes of the people. They have come through a period of difficulty, but God has brought them into a place of joy. Throughout Advent, we also look forward to such rejoicing. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to pray continually with gratitude and rejoicing, and the God of peace will sustain them. In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist repeats the theme from last week—that he is merely the messenger to prepare the way for the Lord.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. God is coming. How do Isaiah’s words of praise and justice inspire you to act?
Read Psalm 126. How do you celebrate the justice that you have seen come to fruition while hoping for future justice? How does your anticipation of the fullness of justice affect your faith?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. How can you return to the basics of faith during Advent?
Read John 1:6-8, 19-28. How is this Advent season both familiar and new for you? How might simple announcements of Jesus’ coming change your experience of the season?

Respond by posting a prayer.