Today we begin the third year of the three-year cycle of readings. These readings are the outcome of an ecumenical movement to draw together various sects in the US and Canada. The resulting schedule is now followed by many Roman Catholic parishes, the entire world-wide Anglican Communion, and numerous sects.
Disaster awaits Jerusalem. The Babylonians and their allies the Chaldeans have taken the northern nation of Judah and are now marching toward Jerusalem. Jeremiah begins to prophesy. Jerusalem will fall, he tells the people, for God is now punishing the Israelites for their wickedness; but eventually, guided by some descendent of David, Jerusalem will rise again. The city did fall, and its walls and Temple were destroyed. Yet half a century later they emerged from captivity with a Bible, a holy book, which they called the Torah (meaning Law), the first five books of the Bible we know. The Torah not only laid the groundwork for a unified Judaism, but served as a political constitution for the state they formed, called Judea.
I Thessalonians 3:9-13
The first letter to the Thessalonians is generally regarded as the earliest written of Paul’s letters and, consequently, the earliest written piece in the New Testament. The Christian congregation has not been established very long, but is proving itself strong in faith.
© Arthur H. Cash
Understanding the political and geographic history of the time serves to enrich our understanding of Paul’s letters and those attributed to Luke, whose work we are reading throughout Advent. Thank you for this lesson.