My church is working on putting together a devotional for Advent based on the “Daily Lectionary Readings for Advent, Year 2.” The Daily Lectionary readings, as best as I can tell, are offered as a complement to the Sunday Lectionary Readings, the texts used in many mainline churches each week.
I was given Saturday, December 10: Psalm 90, 149; Haggai 2:1-9; Revelation 3:1-6; Matthew 24:1-14; and Psalm 80, 72. My first reaction upon reading the scriptures was horror. What a set of awful passages. Even the Gospel text is among my least favorite passages ever (“There will be war and rumors of war…”). Sigh. It gave me sympathy, though, for lectionary preaches who grit their teeth and tackle difficult passages (since at least part of the point of the lectionary is to preach the whole of Scripture and not pick and choose favorite passages, but I digress).
This morning I glanced at the whole set of readings and realized that, of course, the Haggai text isn’t just randomly thrown in, but that the whole–or at least big, contextual chunks–of Haggai (and Amos, Zechariah, and Zephaniah) are part of the readings. For Advent is the anticipation of the coming (and the second coming) of the Messiah, and what are the minor prophets but the prophetic voice calling for that Messiah? So, really, not a bad thing to be reading as we prepare to celebrate his coming, his birth. And I think I have a way in to my meditation. But that first glimpse of Haggai et al out of context was a bit disturbing and a good reminder for me of the importance of context.