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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leangings, Mary and Jesus edition

For Sunday, December 21, 2008

2 Samuel 7:1 – 11, 16

Luke 1: 47 – 55 or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38


It’s the week for Mary, but it’s also the week for Jesus.  In the unofficial liturgical calendar of advent there are some truths I have learned in the past 11 years:  Even the most hard-core Advent churches tend to sing carols on the 4th Sunday of advent, and on the Sunday before Christmas you’d better hit the story of Jesus just a little ‘cause not everyone will make it to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.


Which is all to say that the prime texts for me for this week are the annunciation and Mary’s magnificat. 

For many years I’ve been preaching the cross in the manger, the reminder that we don’t worship the baby Jesus, we celebrate Jesus’ birth because of what came later-
  his ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection.


In the words of Ann Weems:

If there is no cross in the manger,

                There is no Christmas.

If the Babe doesn’t become the Adult,

                There is no Bethlehem star.

If there is no commitment in us,

                There are no Wise Men searching.

If we offer no cup of cold water,

                There is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.



Only, this year, I seem to be craving the love of a child a little more than usual.  Yes, the cross is out there, but I don’t want the cross in the manger just yet.  I want to stay there with the Holy Family and visit a while before that horrible truth becomes evident.  I want to watch the peaceful slumber of a child before hearing the words he will speak, words of truth that will cut me to my core and then begin to rebuild me all over again.


I’m ready for baby Jesus.


How about you?  What are you thinking about for this Sunday?



Into the bleakest winters of our souls, Lord, you are tiptoeing on tiny Infant feet to find us and hold our hands. May we drop whatever it is we are so busy about these days to accept this gesture so small that it may get overlooked in our frantic search for something massive and over­whelming. Remind us that it is not you who demands large, lavish celebrations and enormous strobe-lit displays of faith. Rather, you ask only that we have the faith of a mustard seed and the willingness to let a small hand take ours. We are ready.  Amen.

~~Margaret Anne Huffman


  1. First Comment...Woot woot.

    We are having our christmas pagent this week so we are going to make our family Christmas Eve service the story of Christmas from Mary's perspective.

    I will be doing a first person narrative monologue where I will play Mary. I will talk about the annunciation, the visit to Elizabeth and the birth of Jesus all from Mary's perspective.

    This should be fun!

  2. oops, meant to say we won't have a sermon this Sunday, thus the Mary sermon on Christmas Eve. We can't forget about Mary!

  3. LS, I think that if your theology is more incarnational, it is quite easy to celebrate the baby Jesus without focusing on sacrificial death. Jesus is God's love incarnate. More and more, this means to me that Jesus wasn't "born to die" but born to show the world God's love, knowing that the result would inevitably be violent death.

  4. I am going with neither MAry nor Jesus, sort of.

    I am going with MAry's song of Justice and the revolutionary aspect of the Christmas incarnation.

  5. We really do hold Christmas off until the 24th and I have some folks who were stunned not to hear about Mary last Sunday - also wanted to know why the rose candle wasn't lit on the wreath! So it will be Mary for sure on Sunday and probably through the Magnificat and its message of social justice. I've been thinking lately that it is not about a reversal of roles - rich/poor - so much as it is about evening them out. I think I've already said that the idea that there is only so much to go around and we need to make sure everyone has enough really resonates with me. Living simply may get mentioned once again, especially as we get ready for the present binge four days later.

  6. My music director, who is Orthodox Christian and I had a conversation about which Sunday is "Rose" Sunday...we don't have a rose candle so at least that part is settled.

    Not sure what I am preaching this Sunday, but I've called in *sick* today (well, a justified mental health day)- so this day is all about writing sermons and newsletter articles - all the while drinking tea and staying in my pajama's and robe....

  7. Our Christmas Pageant Extravaganza is this Sunday, so no sermon.

    But when last we left Mary, on Dec 14, she was in labor...

  8. since this is my first appointment i decided not to change too much and go with the flow of things. i'm really starting to regret that now, especially since i have NO clue how to handle/create a 4th sunday of Advent and Christmas day combo!

    any suggestions will be highly appreciated!

    (we will not have Christmas service at all--Come and Go Communion on Christmas Eve)

  9. As always, LS, thank you for your conversation/brain starter!

  10. Come and Go Communion...I'm sointrigued! Is it "drive in style?" On a COLD day like today that sounds real good to me! ;)

    We sang a few Cmas carols at Lessons & Carols but otherwise, not until Christmas Eve!

    Then, the sermon on the Sunday AFTER Christmas is always replaced by a hymn sing, so we can get our fill of Christmas carols in church! Nice for the congregation AND for the preachers.

  11. I'm going with the "tradition" I started last year and reading a story (not THE story) on the 4th Sunday of Advent. We've done Advent Promises (prophets & John on the first Sunday, then Joseph, then Mary) this year. I'm not as crazy about my story as I was last year, so this may be the end of the tradition.

    revcrystalk, I'm not so sure about Come & Go communion. Do tell--what is that about?

  12. Love the prayer at the end, LS! So what I needed to read for myself so I can keep going in this hectic time.

  13. I am preaching Mary this Sunday....not entirely sure how this is going to go. I love the reversal/social justice/subversive theme (and we are planning to sing the Canticle of the Turning) but I am also thinking about how Mary treats her unplanned pregnancy as a blessing rather than a burden. And then there's the poem I've put in the service, which asks lots of questions (was Jesus' life what she dreamed for her baby? did she really say yes so quickly? would I have said yes? Do I say yes when God wants to birth God's promises through me? etc) and the offertory is "Mary Did You Know".

    Clearly I need to think/pray about this whole situation more, because now I'm also in love with the Ann Weems poem....

  14. I too am excited about sitting with the holy family for a while. Christmas Eve and the two Sundays after will focus on this stillness and celebration... we can get to the cross later - that's what Lent/Easter are all about afterall!

    This Sunday I'm focusing on Mary - and how God's love became incarnate in our lives. Last week, I did the Magnificat and the justice side, using Isaiah, but this week, it's time just to rest in God's promise fulfilled.

    I have posted on my blog the thoughts I had two months ago for my Circuit Rider article - and I'm taking parts of it... especially the song "You Are Mine" and focusing on that idea that there is nothing to fear now that love has entered our world.

  15. Come and Go Communion--a rich and wonderful experience for the pastor (I'm looking forward to it anyway) but I'm not so sure about the folks coming in. I'm worried about it being too McFaith.

    The candles will be lit, soft music playing and the lights turned low. At 5pm, I'll go through the Great Thanksgiving with those who are there and the next 2 hours people are free to come in, sit, pray, and take communion when they are ready. They can stay as long or as short as they'd like.

    I've experienced it on the recieving end and really enjoyed it because there was no rush.

  16. I like the idea of a Come and Go Communion - especially on Christmas Eve when things are often chaotic for people.
    Here is a poem a priest in Wyoming sent to me:

    Mary’s Song (A Poem by Luci Shaw)

    Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
    keep warm this small hot naked star
    fallen to my arms. (Rest

    you who have had so far to come.)
    Now nearness satisfies
    the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
    whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
    whose eyelids have not closed before.
    His breath (so slight it seems
    no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
    to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
    the whisper of straw, he dreams,
    hearing no music from his other spheres.
    Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
    he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
    all years. Older than eternity, now he
    is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
    to my poor planet, caught
    that I might be free, blind in my womb
    to know my darkness ended,
    brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
    and for him to see me mended
    I must see him torn.

  17. I am preaching the Magnificat - still working on my angle! But, the most exciting thing is that one of the women in the church is going to read the Magnificat in the same manner as Mary spoke it originally: with child!

    I am also planning for a Longest Night service on Thursday - I've got to do a brief meditation. Has anybody posted meditations from your Longest Night services?

  18. Just under the wire: I put in my two-cents over at my blog. I'll see y'all Saturday!

  19. Hi, all~
    I am not supposed to preach on Sunday morning, but I'm having another go at the Magnificat for the Blue Christmas service that afternoon. Or I'm changing my mind today about what text to use, that's the other possibility.
    I'm a little worried that a predicted snowstorm is going to mess with our pageant rehearsal and hope the director finds a way to go through with it!

  20. I am preaching the Annunciation, but I have no idea where to go with it, which is why I am here looking for ideas from all of you wonderful colleagues!

    As a very "decent and in order" Presbyterian, come-n-go communion sets off all my Reformed Theology alarm bells. (i.e. for us Reformed theology nerds, no stripping the Word away from the Sacrament or vice versa -- they always go together).

    However, my mother is a United Methodist, and they have "come-n-go" communion at her church in the chapel every Sunday between services, so to each their own.

    Advent blessings to you all!

  21. Palm Tree, as an Episcopalian my thought on "come and go communion" was, "what about confession and absolution!"

    Everyone does it differently, though, I know! :)

  22. I'm preaching the Annunciation. when I looked at the text in original language I laughed to see my software refer to the root of the words about the conception by the Holy Spirit to say, Mary would be "seized in the belly". I loved it! It made it so real, so I'm going with a sermon "Seized By Life" and will described a roadside Annunciation in Terra Cotta I saw outside Florence, Italy.
    To all moms, what do you think of the phrase? I'll put the ideas up on my blog later this week.

  23. I don't actually get a pulpit, but I'm "preaching" this week on Mary (here) too; and working on the Christmas reflection...

    and the rose candle is definitely traditionally the 3rd week (for Gaudete Sunday - Rejoice!)


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