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Five Ways Into Sunday’s Scripture: All of Creation Is Part of God’s Salvation

LUKE 3:1–6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias, ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

This week’s Gospel wants to be sure we understand the ministry of John is happening in the real world and part of salvation history. We are given locations and the names of emperors, governors, rulers and high priests. It is only in the last sentence and a half that we actually find out what John is doing. And then we learn his message is not new, but the ancient proclamation of the prophet Isaiah. So, our Gospel writer wants us to know that God is acting in history, and it is happening in the midst of religious and civic politics and impacts the physical, political, and spiritual landscapes. We are reminded in this Advent season that repentance — turning back to God — is a personal and collective exercise that calls us to create a world where all flesh (all creation) is part of God’s salvation. —Ruth Frey


Patricia Tull contemplates what it means for “all flesh to see the salvation of God.”


Pádraig Ó Tuama offers a primer on the political landscape of Luke and notes the “text calls all of us to be incarnate in our social, cultural, linguistic, and political realities, and to search for the pathway of justice in these realities.”


Daniella Zsupan-Jerome reflects on the symbolism in Mattia Preti’s St. John the Baptist Preaching.


Handel’s familiar fourth movement of the Messiah proclaims Isaiah’s prophecy.


Advent Credo by Daniel Berrigan.

Coming Up

The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle welcomes Thandeka Tutu to Trinity Church Wall Street for an exploration of the spiritual leadership and life of her father, Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu, on Friday, December 10, at 6:30pm. This event will include, but will not be limited to, a discussion of Dr. Battle’s latest book, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Autobiography of South Africa’s Confessor. Join us in person at Trinity Church or online via Trinity's website or Facebook page.

The next Discovery series — Spirituality, Christian Identity and Leadership: The Worldview of Desmond Tutu — begins this Sunday, December 5. The Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle, Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at The General Theological Seminary, joins the Trinity Community for a three-week series based on his new book, Desmond Tutu: A Spiritual Autobiography of South Africa’s Confessor.

Communion and Community concludes this Sunday, December 5. Parishioners are invited to this spiritual exercise in personal and community formation as Father Phil joins Parker Palmer in conversation.

Contemplative Practice with Poetry meets Wednesdays at 6:30pm. Join for a practice of guided meditation and contemplative reflection with poets and artists, for mutual spiritual support and growth, led by spiritual directors John Deuel and Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones.