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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings- Abundant Options Edition

For Sunday, December 14, 2008

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Psalm 126 or Luke 1:47-55

I Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28


This Sunday, there are lots of viable options for sermon scriptures.


The Isaiah reading includes, “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes.”


What would that look like in our world?   What does it mean to release prisoners?  

Would we be the ones being released or would we be the ones releasing?  Or both?


The Psalm includes this passage: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’  The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.”


Interesting, isn’t it, that the alternative reading for the Psalm is The Magnificat, which includes these words: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”


How do these two readings fit together?  Has anyone ever preached on these two passages together instead of choosing one?


1st Thessalonians asks us to keep praying, and to give thanks in all circumstances.  It also calls us to test things.  Who’s going to write that test?


And John.  John reminds us of the light, and how John the Baptist is NOT it.  Do we ever get a Jesus complex and think that's the job for which we are applying?  Do we ever expect that of our congregations?

So.  What are you thinking for this week?  Or are you one of the many congregations, like the one I serve, that will be worshipping with Lessons and Carols this Sunday?

                Christ is still knocking. It is not yet Christmas. But it is also not the great final Advent, the final coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5).

                Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent - that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: "On earth peace to those on whom God's favor rests." Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. "I stand at the door?" We however call to him: "Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!" Amen.                                                                        ~~Dietrich Bonhoeffer



  1. Thank you so much for the Bonhoeffer quote, I needed to read that today.

    I have been struggling with the need to hear and reclaim my own voice, and although I love Isaiah as there is so much hope there,this helped me to decide to concentrate on the Magnificat this week.

    These are my musings so far I am considering daring to simply use them as they are ( without the commentary).

    Peace be with you preachers as you prepare at this busy time.

  2. I am feeling particularly calm at this present time.

    The bishop comes for his annual visitation this week, so I don't have to prepare a sermon. And because I am required to have information to the Diocesan Offices two weeks before the visit, the service ordo has been done for close to three weeks.

    Which means that I've had time to work on other services; so all my Advent ordos are finished, the Advent Lessons & Carols service is lined up, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are both finished, and I will be working on Christmas I and Christmas Lessons & Carols today.

    Parish #1 will have their Advent L&C service Sunday evening, Parish #2 will miss that service this year; but both will have Christmas L&C on Christmas II -- After I get back from Vacation.

    All that to say that this is the first Advent I feel relaxed about the whole season.


  3. We will be singing, and I will be singing. This is the firsts full year with the Evangelical Lutheran Worship in the pews - so I've taken some more unfamiliar stuff and will offer it up with commentary. My organists have been alerted that I will lead the singing. They are cringing, I'm sure.
    "Wait for the Lord" - the Taize chorus, will be the theme. We will sing "Lost in the Night' - a sad Finnish hymn, about longing for freedom. And because it is 'rejoice Sunday' the Cameroon "He Came Down".

    And I have rhythm sticks to pass out. There will be no children because the Children's program is at 10:30. Those rhythm sticks are for the elderly!

    It's special to be able to pull this together so early in the week. Praise God.

  4. I think I'm focusing on Mary and Luke this next Sunday - but I'm very intrigued by the idea of preaching on both the psalm and the Magnificat. We are skipping the John passage, since the pastor who filled in for me last week used it. I could go back and pick up the Mark reading, but I'm so much more compelled by Mary and the joy that she was experiencing.

    In my reflections I focused on the idea that joy is not happiness - that the kind of joy that she experienced only comes from knowing the desperate situation you are in the midst of is about to end, that something new is breaking in.

    I'm totally stuck on songs to use for worship this week.

  5. I'm going with Mary this week, semi-on-lectionary. Using the Magnificat and the Annunciation passage. That's about all I know, except that Milton at "don't eat alone" had a really nice Mary-reflection last night. (I don't have the foggiest idea how to do a link, sorry...I'm blog-challenged).

  6. Here's a link to Milton's reflection.
    We have a Christmas pageant on the 21st, and I feel pulled toward Mary, so I too will be using both the Annunciation and the Magnificat, along with the connecting section this week, working with the idea that both Mary and Elizabeth received God's disturbing joy. How ready are we to be disturbed by joy?

  7. Well, I'm done with Advent preaching and the feels strange. I know I should be thankful for a little break, but really I was kind of excited about a whole cohesive Advent series and plan. When I found out 6-8 weeks ago that with the choir cantata taking one Sunday and the children's Christmas program taking another, I wouldn't be preaching 2 of 4 Advent Sundays, I sort of lost energy or passion around planning Advent that would feed me, too.

    I could mope or I could just be thankful for the break and use it to look forward. I'm moving toward the latter. Also trying to figure out how to avoid this next year. Maybe instead of replacing the sermon with these worshipful presentations, we can shorten up other parts of the service to fit them in. I don't know. Good thing I have a year to figure it out now!

    I am doing the children's sermon/Advent candle lighting this week, so I'm going to do my injection of the message/theme in that part. That might be our solution. I can handle that, I guess.

  8. Thanks, Songbird. I like the joy thought...we have an "Advent Promises" theme, so I'm thinking of the promises that Mary heard and what they might mean for us. Trying to ponder and treasure these things, as she might.

  9. St. John Chrysostom has the BEST sermon ever on the Gospel here. Most Holy & Undivided came into possession of a nearly-complete set of translations of the Greek fathers by "members of the English church" i.e. Tractarians, published in the 1840's, and many of them still uncut! But there's a lot of Chrysostom, and his hermeneutic for the Gospel stories is wonderful. In brief, he says, "look for temptations, look for plots" (we'd say "agendas") and his take on this story is that it was a deliberate temptation of John to declare himself Messiah, which he sees through completely, of course, to the chagrin of his questioners who have so carefully set him up.

  10. LOVE the Bonhoeffer quote...

    I have been posting photos with Advent=ish Scriptures (not on lectionary, it's just my own reading and thinking, sometimes with words!)

    Anyway - pictures I post are ones I take, so feel free to borrow if you desire.

  11. We are having a baptism this week of two sweet sisters(claps hand with glee), so I planned to preach about JBap after looking at it briefly weeks ago. Also, Isiah. But the Thess passage is also so delicious and celebratory. So I think I will speak to that in the sermon itself. Which, I'm thinking, will be a sort of letter to the two little girls to be baptized. Wow, that Chrystomon (sp??) thing so helps here - so right that John is being tested and the Thess passage speaks rights t o that testing. These dear little girls will also be tested. How to move thru life with joy and aware of grace in spite of all that? That is what will hopefully unfold. I'm trying to take a page from KEWP's book and write my sermon today when I actually have time.

    Speaking of joy, "Feasting on the Word" is such a joy these days! And I was delighted to find at least one revgal (Youknowwhoyouare!) in the back....Confidential to You: Looking forward to finding your essay when its time comes around.

  12. Katie Z. If you're stuck for songs, you might like to look at my "Singing the Lectionary" blog - lots of ideas there. I hope you find them helpful!

  13. We have the cantata this week, (John Rutter's Gloria! with brass!) and I'm preaching the Magnificat next Sunday. Can't wait to read y'all's (is that right?) reflections this week so I can jumpstart my brain on that...I don't know what to say about Advent 4 this year when we haven't done Advent in a way that makes me feel adventy. hmmm...

  14. Oooh, I am envious of those of you who have large enough churches to have really beautiful music this time of year. Als, such is not the case in my world.

    I also thank you for the quote. WOW! I think I'll use it some way or other.

    I need to switch the JOY emphasis and the LOVE emphasis to make certain things fit, so this week I will be using other scriptures, but next week I will likely spend time with Mary being joyful...LOL, so I'm interested in what you all will come up with. I'm hopping over to your place, Sally, to read your musings.

    I wrote a devotional book this year, with help from my daughter, and printed it for our church and also for outreach. I've posted one online each day, but they don't correspond to the lectionary. I think I may do that next year.

    Off to shovel more snow. We are buried in the white stuff.


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