Advent

Second Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 40:1-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Reading 3: 
2 Peter 8-15a
Reading 4: 
Mark 1:1-8
By Bruce G. Epperly

Today’s passages involve both comforting the afflicted and challenging the comfortable. Ironically, this is good news in Advent, when we are tempted to be caught up in busyness and consumerism. There is wisdom in the platitude “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Amid the shopping and revels, we need to remember the deeper meaning of the holiday – God’s glorious gift to us that calls us to bless others.

Creative Transformation Volume 20:3-4

CT 20:3-4 cover

Advent in a Pluralistic Age

Articles by John B. Cobb, Jr., David Wilkinson, Bradley Artson, Mustafa Ruzgar, Jeffery Long, & Gene Reeves
Advent liturgies by  Jessica Petersen, Timothy Murphy, Jeanyne B. Slettom, and Sarah Bloesch

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First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Psalm 80:17-19
Reading 2: 
Isaiah 64:1-19
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 1:3-9
Reading 4: 
Mark 13:24-37
By Bruce G. Epperly

Advent is the season of waiting: of promise and patience, of presence and absence, of fullness and emptiness. The seed has been planted but the growth is invisible and fragile. In the midst of the growth process, threats abound. Will the seed burst forth into the sunlight? Will thorns choke its life and stunt its growth? Will it receive adequate nourishment to grow into a great tree, giving shelter and fruit for all around? Will we and our congregations survive – and better yet flourish – amid the white water rapids of today’s religious pluralism and postmodernism?

4th Sunday of Advent

December 19, 2010
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 7:10-16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Reading 3: 
Romans 1:1-7
Reading 4: 
Matthew 1:18-25
By Jeanyne Slettom

These Advent texts have focused a lot on what I’ve been calling—borrowing from Isaiah—the Holy Way of God. This is the way of economic and social justice, where goods are distributed in such a way that everyone has enough to sustain life, where power is not used to oppress, where compassion and respect guide all interpersonal (and interspecies) relationships. It is the message that Jesus will preach in parables and the beatitudes and such powerful examples as Matthew 25:40, where he asks us to evaluate ourselves by the criterion of how well we treat the “least of these” among us.

4th Sunday of Advent

December 20, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Micah 5:2-5a
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 10:5-10
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:39-45 and Luke 1:46b-55
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Micah 5:2-5a

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 17, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:7-18
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 12:2-6
By

John the Baptist's words are very harsh in this passage from Luke, calling his listeners a "brood of vipers," and warning them of the wrath to come. He challenges them to "bear fruit that befits repentance" without using their heritage as an excuse to avoid his message. His warning is that unless the tree bears good fruit, it is cut down and thrown into the fire. An odd character, John is calling his listeners to prepare the way of the Lord.

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 17, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:7-18
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 12:2-6
By Russell Pregeant

If the gospel texts for last week tended to treat the theme of repentance is somewhat abstract terms, the readings for this Sunday leave no wiggle room at all for those who insist on reducing repentance to its individualistic and pietistic elements. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance,” John proclaims, and then proceeds to concretize those fruits in economic terms as he demands the sharing of goods and honesty in tax collection and then forbids extortion.

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Reading 3: 
Philippians 4:4-7
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:7-18
Alt Reading 1: 
Isaiah 12:2-6
By Paul S. Nancarrow

The Third Sunday of Advent is sometimes known as “Gaudete Sunday,” from the introit of the Latin Mass for this day, which called upon the faithful to “Rejoice!” Each of the readings for this day reflects a sense of joy in the anticipation of creative transformation at the coming of the Holy One of God.

2nd Sunday of Advent

December 10, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 3: 
Phillippians 1:3-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 3:1-6
By Rick Marshall

Luke 3:1-6

2nd Sunday of Advent

December 10, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Malachi 3:1-4
Reading 3: 
Philippians 1:3-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 3:1-6
By Russell Pregeant

The two readings from Luke focus on the ministry of John the Baptist. Although the identity of the “messenger” in Malachi 3:1-4 is obscure, the use of this passage in connection with the Lucan texts rests upon two traditions: a strain of Jewish thought in which the messenger was identified with the prophet Elijah who was expected to return, and the relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah expressed in some New Testament writings. Interestingly, however, the New Testament is by no means unanimous on this point.

2nd Sunday of Advent

December 6, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Baruch 5:1-9
Reading 3: 
Philippians 1:3-11
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 3:1-6
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Baruch 5:1-9

1st Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:25-36
By Rick Marshall

Luke 21:25-36
Even though this is the First Sunday in Advent, the gospel reading chooses a text, which speaks of the end of things. Using typical apocalyptic language, the author of Luke describes signs of the end much the same way that Mark and the book of Revelations use a standard stock of ideas, symbols, language and images.

1st Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2006
See Also: 

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on Incarnation

Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 25:1-10
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:25-36
By Russell Pregeant

Apocalyptic texts always present a challenge to process interpreters. Both their assumption regarding a final end to the world process and their presentation of God’s action as supernatural, unilateral, and interventionist run counter to the process vision of God’s endless persuasive interaction with creation. Precisely for this reason, however, these texts also present a golden opportunity for reflection on the polyvalence and open-endedness of biblical language.

1st Sunday of Advent

November 29, 2009
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 25:1-10
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Reading 4: 
Luke 21:25-36
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Jeremiah 33:14-16

4th Sunday of Advent

December 21, 2008
Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Reading 3: 
Romans 16:25-27
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:26-38, 46-55
By Bruce G. Epperly

A covenant forever? A throne forever?  What might these words addressed to King David and his successors mean to 21st century “gentile” Christians gathered for worship with Christmas on the horizon? Taken literally, these words are irrelevant and counterfactual, except to those persons who assume that Israel is at the heart of God’s salvation history and will be God’s chosen instrument in ushering in the world-annihilating Second Coming of the Messiah.

4th Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2002
See Also: 

Year A
Year B
Year C

Advent Candle Liturgy

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on incarnation
Preaching Christmas

Reading 1: 
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Reading 2: 
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Reading 3: 
Romans 16:25-27
Reading 4: 
Luke 1:26-38
Alt Reading 2: 
Luke 1:47-55
By Bruce G. Epperly

Luke 1:26-38, 46-55
On this last Sunday in the Advent season, it is essential to confront the scandal of Christmas. According to traditional Christianity, “the word was made flesh” – the Divine took birth in human life. God became one of us in the life of Jesus of Nazareth – fully human and fully divine.

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 14, 2008
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Reading 4: 
John 1:6-8, 19-28
By Bruce G. Epperly

“The spirit of God is upon me, because God has appointed me to bring good news.” 

3rd Sunday of Advent

December 15, 2002
See Also: 

Year A
Year B
Year C

Advent Candle Liturgy

John Cobb on Incarnation
Daniel Day Williams on incarnation
Preaching Christmas

Reading 1: 
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 126
Reading 3: 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Reading 4: 
John 1:6-8, 19-28
By Bruce G. Epperly

On important life occasions, we “dress up” as a recognition that certain times and places are set apart as extraordinary. The same applies to our preparations during the Christmas season. While there is nothing inherently wrong with giving our friends and families unwrapped presents, our hearts leap with joy when we see brightly colored gifts under the Christmas tree. While those of us who are “all thumbs” choose to deliver our presents in “gift bags,” even these ready-to-hand packages add to the zest of gift giving.

2nd Sunday of Advent

December 7, 2008
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 40:1-11
Reading 2: 
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Reading 3: 
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Reading 4: 
Mark 1:1-8
By Bruce G. Epperly

The lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Advent call us to an imaginative “everyday eschatology,” grounded in a transformed “prophetic Pelagianism.” First of all, the passages assert that our vision of God’s future calls us to certain ethical, spiritual, communal, and interpersonal behaviors. Second, the passages invite us to see ourselves as God’s companions in an eschatological adventure, in which we are not passive observers but active participants.

1st Sunday of Advent

November 23, 2008
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 64:1-9
Reading 2: 
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Reading 3: 
I Corinthians 1:3-9
Reading 4: 
Mark 13:24-37
By Bruce G. Epperly

The passages for the First Sunday of Advent are particularly apt for our current economic and global context. They reflect the stark wintry spirit which leads us to believe that our best days are behind us and that all we have to look forward to is the diminishment and destruction of the realities that have sustained us through the years. As I pondered this week’s texts, I was reminded of C.S.

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