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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Advent C2: Peace, Peace.

Well, now that we litugical calendar churches are knee-deep in Advent, how are we holding up? This week is (in some traditions) Peace week. How do we preach peace in a world constantly at war?

At our Presbytery meeting last month, we had a presentation on the genocide in Darfur--just in case we had forgotten about it, as much of the world has. I can't get the images of burned villages, crying children, and women glassy-eyed from the trauma of gang rape out of my mind. As someone else asked somewhere else: Jesus died for this?

And yet. And yet. We are reminded in the Luke 3 lection that every rough and crooked place shall be made straight, and it echoes Isaiah's prophecy that "every valley shall be exalted" (Can you tell that I've been listening to Handel's Messiah?)

So Peace Week it is, and peace it shall be.

How are you approaching Advent 2 this week?


  1. I am not sure if I am going lectionary this week but peace is certainly something that needs to be proclaimed. Thanks for the prompt

  2. Trying to get something generated. This will be my only time to preach during Advent, so I want my one to be a good one. Trying to incorporate idea of peace into John's words that must have caused anything but peace. Also thinking on whole notion that having our world shattered by peace can be unsettling. There is comfort in chaos becasue we at least know what that is like. Peace can shatter us and our comfort because it means we must change, repent, turn... And that change is hard.
    Repenting means we have to live peaceably with our neighbors (even the church member that drives us crazy, the person that cut us off on the way to work, or a co-worker with an attitude).Living peacably is tough as making hills flat and getting the valleys to rise. especially for those of us that make mountins from molehills!

  3. I am going with Malachi and his fuller's soap and refiner's fire. Should be lots of warm, uplifting fun :)

  4. ALtough, to gather from my early thought I may be talking about why se have this discussion during Advent anyway (that should eat up half the sermons right?)

  5. We talked about this very passage at the Minister's prayer time. And then shared some of our own stories of meeting Christ in advent.

    I am doing the Philippians passage though. And now I can't remember why. Okay, I now remember, I am again borrowing from Homiletics about our being a generous nation to certain causes, and especially at this time of year, but we forget things like Darfur and we aren't necessarily generous all year long.

    We can't forget Darfu, and we shouldn't, we as Christians are called to be Counter Cultural and radical like Christ. But I do have a hard time being that way.

    Am I holding up, yes and no.
    How's everyone else doing?

  6. I'm also using Philippians for the same reasons as Rev Abi, and following the sermon with Comfort, Comfort You My People. If we are truly to live prophetically into the kingdom of peace then we must be radical in our efforts to comfort God's people not just during Advent but all year - with money and with spiritual and political support as well.

    We could always sneak in Jesus' "the poor are always with you" rebuke to remind our congregations that generosity is required all year.

  7. I just got the last 6 pk of Pumpkin Ale, so I might not be holding up tonight.Thnaks to my colleague who pointed me in the right direction.
    BTW, I was thinking about commentary I read on Luke. Apparently Luke does nto thin that JTB baptised Jesus. Which is okay, but somehow we get that they never met...nto sure where that came from. But, after seeing The Nativity Story (I thought it was well done, but more later)and thinking on r'ships there, are we to just assume that John and Jesus never met up?
    They never got together for a family reunion to play ball, eat fried chicken and potato salad and brownies with fudge icing and nuts on top? They went 30+ yrs and never met?
    Come on summer togethr at least.

  8. I love thought from rev maria on making this an all year thing.
    We get big support for our food pantry, but have also started serving in a soup kitchen once a month. Some months are better than others to get people signed up. Have to remind folks that people are hungry every hour, every day, every month, etc.
    Good work on the Phil text.

  9. Love what you are saying, 1-4 Grace!
    I understand, completely....

    (And isn't that always a bit alarming, when you find yourself relating to intimate knowledge of chaos and the difficulty of living peacefully?!)

    I have been stuck, for days, on the phrase "the peace that passes understanding." I know this gold record from Paul's Greatest Hits comes up all throughout the year... but it just somehow fits this Advent.

    When nothing else is knowable in this world, we can be sure that God holds out for us, His people, a distinct peace. He beckons us to take hold of it and not to let it go.... As much as the light and the hope that is part of every Advent season, this peace is what His people need to exist where we do, when we do, above and beyond all else we "do."

    I know I need it a lot lately -- even moreso as my church's sr. pastor announced his resignation (effective Jan. 1)on Dec. 1!

    Here's a brief prayer for peace for us all, those struggling just to live and those struggling to survive -- the actors and the acted upon, and all of us in-between. May our indignation rise and our action be swift when justice is absent. May our generosity not be seasonal. May we live with much not-knowing and still find peace... God's peace be unto us all.

  10. We're sort of re-arranging the lectionary this year. I'm doing Zechariah's blessing of John.

    Not sure what I'm doing WITH it, exactly. Something about light, probably...ya think?

  11. Urggle...Okay. Someone explain this thing about the candles to the Baptist. We light them at my church(s), but mostly because they are pretty. That there are particular virtues assigned to them is new to me. 'Splain it to me, Lenny.

  12. Tripp, chiming in as a former Baptist, I have only the vaguest understanding. The four things are hope, peace, joy and love, but not necessarily in that order. Since they *are* in that order in the hymn we're singing one verse at a time each week, I'm calling them that and using the words in my sermon titles. Just because it helps to be organized in a chaotic season...
    We did an exercise in which people wrote hopes on paper leaves last Sunday, and many, many wrote "Peace." Using that I'm going to be speaking about peace, what we think it means, and what it might really be like to have all the rough places made plain. Sounds like I'm using Luke 3, doesn't it?
    I considered telling the story of Elizabeth and Mary alongside Zechariah's song, but I like the idea of building a message out of the congregation's own hopes.

  13. Hey, Songbird, that ties in with what I was reading earlier about Zechariah's song and peace. Luke uses the word some 14 (I think) times, and it's always associated with Saviour or salvation (I think that's what the commentator said--something long those lines).

    So, peace...what an idea!

  14. I'm thinking tonight about rough places being made plain. Around here that happens with a bulldozer.

    Just a thought...

  15. Rainbow Pastor, I'm glad to have some company with Zechariah this week. I decided to go with his song for the sermon text (and we're singing it too). It involves hope. And...something else.

  16. I was planning to go with the Malachi- stick with the prophets for much of Advent, and I think my sermon will draw heavily on the Malachi, but I feel a need to preach on Luke 3 in conversation with Malachi. At this point I'm thinking about the button/bumper sticker "There's no peace without justice." Thinking about the hard stuff that justice entails- like lye soap (that apparently can take a layer of skin off), like purifying fire- levelling mountains, filling valleys- turning our lives around, turning the world around- to prepare for Christ's coming some of this hard stuff is required- to be peacemakers some of this hard stuff is required. These are very rough first thoughts... look forward to hearing more from all of you.

  17. CHeesehead's bulldozer coment reminds me of a story:

    My first year here I sat in with the choir. We were singing through the hymns for Advent and turned to There's a voice in the Wilderness Crying. ONe choir member started reading the words and was aghast at the concept of doing all that earth reshaping--such road building is not environmentally sound after all.

    The real kicker is that she was reading Scripture and got to read the Isaiah passage from whence the image had come.

  18. that said- I'm resonating as well with some of 1-4 grace's initial comment.

  19. Ghandhi's grand daughter was interviewed on On Point today (you can hear it at if you don't get the program in your area). When asked about the viability of non violence as a way to peace, she talked about the patience it took to not respond violently. Violence is a knee jerk response, not a thoughtful one.

    Seemed like an adventful comment to me.


  20. I am going with Luke 3 and using calendars as my item to illustrate the point...I'll use a regular calendar first and talk about ordering our lives by the power structures, like the first half of the passage.

    Then I'll pull out my Salt of the Earth calendar and use it to talk about ordering our lives by another structure...matching it up with the second half of the passage.

    Sounds almost neat and tidy now, but we'll see how it goes when I actually get down to writing it. :)

  21. In my meditation, to be posted this coming Saturday, I focused on a metaphoric reading of Baruch.

  22. We have a baptism this week! It'll be my first time, too. And Disciples IMMERSE.

    It's a wonderful and amazing gift to our sense of Advent... it's deepening the repentence/renewal dimension of the season for the congregation. Or at least giving us a vivid expression of such.

  23. I will write a little more on my blog about this later, but based upon the reading I've done among the articles on the textweek site, [Loader and mixed Lutherans] it has struck me rather forcibly that there is no salvation without change. The essential message of John the Baptist challenges the people as to whose side they will be on, which kingdom will they embrace: earthly or divine. As John the B quotes Isaiah, it doesn't matter whether you're on the heights or in the depths, when the dominion of God comes you are going for a wild ride so be prepared --even the most familiar of landscapes is going to change.

    Of course, we church folks dislike change, don't we? Have we so domesticated the gospel that it has become more identified with what we are called to turn from instead of what we are called to turn to? Talk about a need for fuller's soap and refiner's fire ...

    This gives me plenty to think about while I go to the bank and to the grocery store.

  24. I'm so grateful for all of your thoughts and ideas. I MUST get this sermon done - or at least mostly done - today. Yes, Thursday. I'm going out of town tomorrow and don't want to be worrying about the sermon. Which of course means that I'll worry six times more about it right now.

    Will trade beer suggestions for sermon ideas...

  25. I guess I could've given some indication of where the heck I'm going with this week's texts...

    I'm using both Luke and Malachi, and talking about how we prepare a way for Christ, both within ourselves and in our wider world. Some in my congregation tend to internalize the message of peace, so I'm trying to stretch them a bit by extending the call to peacemaking beyond the comfort they feel in their hearts.

  26. I'm going to use the Time with the Children to tell about Mary and Elizabeth, then talk about Zechariah in the sermon, weaving in our own hopes that we wrote on paper leaves last Sunday, most of which were for peace. Then I'm going to warn that what we imagine peace to be may not be what God has in mind, that God's in-breaking is about turning things upside down, not settling things down. I have an ending. I have an illustration about that Advent wreath in the shape of a peace sign. It is not written, but doesn't that sound like something? It does have a title, and the concluding sentence in rough form.

  27. The readings remind me of the hymn "They Cast Their Nets in Galilee" and the line, "The peace of God, it is no peace/but strive closed in the sod/but let us pray for but one thing/the marv'lous peace of God." Peace- and justice-making is hard, tiring work, but it's what makes the Reign of God come alive for the hopeless and defeated.

    Perhaps one can make a contrast between the sentimentality of secular Christmas, which is now in -- what? -- about the 12th week [/snark]...what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "wish dreams"...and the "tough love" of the Reign of God breaking through...I think of Bono quoting Bruce Cockburn about kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.


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