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Speaking to the Soul: The Tail End

Speaking to the Soul: The Tail End

Week of Advent 3, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 119:49-72 (morning) // 49, [53] (evening)

Isaiah 9:8-17

2 Peter 2:1-10a

Mark 1:1-8

The apocalyptic tone of our readings this morning suits our movement through the last days of Advent and the tail end of the calendar year. The most critical task in these days is distinguishing true leaders and prophets from false and deceptive ones. Using severe imagery, the prophet Isaiah recalls a day when the Lord once “cut off from Israel head and tail,” explaining that “elders and dignitaries are the head, and prophets who teach lies are the tail.” The reason for the severance is that “those who led this people led them astray, and those who were led by them were left in confusion.”

The author of our second reading reminds us that, as with the tails of lizards, the tail of false prophets may grow back. The letter warns that such prophets and teachers “will secretly bring in destructive opinions.” Further, “in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words.”

The season of Advent reminds us, year after year, that throughout all human history we have both heads and tails to fear. There is always a beast lurking in our world, using us as its members. The beast has heads that lead us astray. The tail of this beast, comprising lying prophets, may sting, exploit, and destroy us. The Advent call to keep awake and to watch is not only for the coming of Christ, but also for the presence of all that Christ will judge and oppose.

Lora Walsh blogs about the Daily Office readings at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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