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Welcome to St. John's community. We are honored to serve Christ, and to open our doors to all. Please feel free to join us for worship. St. John's can trace its history to the founding of Jamestown. The parish is over 350 years old, and the church building itself has stood for 2 and a half centuries. St. John's saw the American Revolution and served as a camp ground for troops during the Civil War. Through it all, St. John's has been a place of worship and a home for those seeking communion with Christ. St. John's has a rich and abiding history. Today, it is as it was... a place to find and be found by Christ.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christian Formation for Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 - Isaiah 61:10-62:3 Thanksgiving and Restoration in Jerusalem

Dec 30, 2012, 1 Christmas
Isaiah 61:10—62:3
The Good News of Deliverance
The Vindication and Salvation of Zion
Background: This selection comes from a portion of the book of Isaiah commonly referred to as Third Isaiah which spans from chapter 56 to 66. Third Isaiah was most likely delivered in Jerusalem to a mixed community of residents and those who had returned from exile in Babylon; most likely in the period 538-515 BCE. Today’s reading may be best summed up as a proclamation of deliverance and the glorification of Zion.
Theme: In this selection, we hear Isaiah lead a song of celebration and thanksgiving for the deliverance from exile. We also hear of the renaming of Jerusalem to Zion at the end of the selection. There are hints of a Thanksgiving liturgy and an adoption celebration in this passage – possibly highlighting the return of Israel to its proper place as the chosen people of God; made anew in their sojourn in exile.
Questions to Ponder
* Briefly identify the setting for this passage: what is the social, political, and religious landscape in Israel that shapes this passage.
* Why might the prophet be singing a song of Thanksgiving to God in the first portion of this selection?
* What significance might the bride/bridegroom imagery when discussing Israel and God have for our interpretation of this passage?
* Why might the prophet use images of “the earth bringing forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what was sown in it to spring up…” to describe the pending actions of God in Jerusalem?
* What might the significance of renaming Jerusalem to Zion be? What other stories use the renaming motif in the Old Testament? How are those passages significant in the recounting of Israel’s history?
* Do you think this passage is a pronouncement of God’s action or a prayer to God petitioning God to act in the manner described? What difference would it make if this passage was a pronouncement? What difference would it make if this passage was a petition?
* Why might the prophet equate Jerusalem/Zion to a “crown of beauty” in God’s hand?
* Do you think the prophet is making these statements as a reminder to Israel or God? If these reminders are directed at God, why might the prophet endeavor to remind God of God’s promise? Would you think it would be more important to remind the people of God’s promise as opposed to reminding God of God’s promise?
* How might Israel interpret this prophetic oracle from Isaiah as good news, especially given their recent history and affliction in Babylon?
* How might this passage be instrumental in our understanding of Christmas and the Christmas season?
* What is the good news that this passage brings to us today?
* How might we share the message of good news in this passage with our community?

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