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Lectionary Living

Hitting the mute button

Baruch 5:1-9 or Malachi 3:1-4  •  Luke 1:68-79  •  Philippians 1:3-11  •  Luke 3:1-6


This week's Luke readings offer a sublime pairing for the second Sunday in Advent. The Luke 1 reading contain the words of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. Recall that Zechariah was rendered speechless for disbelieving the angel who had come to announce the birth of John. His wife, in stark contrast, was the heroine of the story, noticing her baby move within her when Mary (pregnant with Jesus) comes to visit. However, the forced silence apparently did Zechariah a world of good, for when he opened his mouth to speak, he offered a song of praise still chanted weekly around the world (Canticle 16, Book of Common Prayer).


The Luke 3 reading is a different sort. Luke seems to be having a little fun here. He begins the chapter in a very serious voice, as though writing a formal legal description of the places and names of the powers that be. But by verse 3, he's doing the opposite, talking about this guy John, who was without any formal authority, going around the wilderness announcing a baptism for the forgiveness of sins, of all things!


Both John and his dad, Zechariah, from the priestly tribe, were part of a long tradition of devoting their energy to their faith. Although approaching their vocation in very different ways, both worked hard to be true to themselves and their callings. Many families pass down processes – sometimes unnamed in the next generations – who nevertheless act according to a family mandate of some kind.


As I became interested in family systems theory, I worried that it might be inconsistent with my faith. For three years – beginning with the third Sunday of Advent 2018 – I began a practice of looking for family systems ideas in the Sunday readings of the Revised Common Lectionary. Scripture did not disappoint. Each week, family systems processes were right there within the texts, hidden in plain sight. Each week I've understood more: about family systems theory, the Bible, my family, and myself.


Now it's time for me to join Zechariah. I will try to press the mute button, quieting myself and assimilating my thoughts for a while. Thank you for reading my work here. I am forever grateful.



Morning: How can I be true to myself today?

Evening: What processes has my family passed down the generations?


Luke 1: 78-79 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.         

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