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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary leanings -- Voice in the Wilderness (week 1) Edition

Advent 2
Oh Goody!  John the Baptist!  Again.

Actually John fascinates me.  But do we really need to read about him twice every Advent season?

But before we immerse ourselves in worship prep, let us pray:
Into the wildernesses of the world,
God speaks through wild men and prophets.
Into the chaos of the world,
God promises peace that shall be.
Into the noise of the world,
God calls to God’s people, calling them together for comfort and challenge.
God, the world is filled with troubles,
we pray for peace to fill the world.
God, sometimes we have trouble finding the path,
we pray for voices to remind us what is possible, to remind us which way to go.
God, in this time of worship,
move among us, fill us with hope, remind us that new life is being born in our world. We pray in the name of Jesus, whose birth we await and who taught his friends to pray saying...

 Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

The Lectionary readings for Advent 2B are found here.

Are you drawn to Isaiah's words of comfort to a people in exile?  With the added benefit that there is some great music to go with that passage (including some from Handel's Messiah).  OR are you working with 2 Peter and either really long days or really short years?  Or then of course there is our friend John.

John the Baptist
My NT prof in seminary often commented that, in light of verse 6, he was tempted to write a book on fashion and diet according to John the Baptist.  Think that'd sell?

In many places the 2nd of Advent is the Sunday of Peace.  How does John fit in with peace? Admittedly it might be easier to talk about John and peace in Mark's version where we really don't hear about the full content of John's preaching.  OTOH, who are the voices crying in the wilderness today?  Who are the ones announcing the coming of the Lord.  And besides saying that they are crazy or ill or misinformed or naive what do we as a society do with them today?

Or maybe Advent is taking you out of Lectionary land into a different way of getting ready for the baby to be born.  Share your vision with us who sometimes tire of the Lectionary approach (and those of us who find the Lectionary rather unhelpful as a tool to help prepare the way).

I also note that this Thursday is World AIDS Day.  Will that impact your worship this week?  In Canada next Tuesday is the 22nd anniversary of a massacre and ever since then Dec 6 has been marked as White Ribbon Day.  How do events like this change our view of Christmas Peace?

I look forward to "hearing" in the comments where worship is taking folks this week...


  1. We started in darkness last week, with Isaiah asking God to show God's self, and Paul, faith-filled Paul, plaintively asking Timothy to "come before winter."

    Right now I'm stuck (in my mind — the sermon is not yet a twinkle in my eye, let alone words in my computer) on the references to making straight the way. I would REALLY appreciate any insights those here can give me.

    When I was a little girl, Advent and John the Baptizer got all conflated with our Christmas pageant. Because all the children needed a part, we had a lot of "innkeepers" popping out of cardboard doors and announcing, "No room here!" and the path of the posada looked like one of those dotted-line maps from Family Circus. Therefore, in my mind, "Make straight" meant "Get out of the darn way so the baby isn't born in the street!" Every Advent I have a hard time getting past that. Isn't it amazing how powerful images from childhood can be?

  2. Robertson Davies (I think) said John the Baptist would have made a fine, fine Christmas card...I've used that line in sermons, and acknowledged the "far away looks" in the congregation as the faithful mentally listed the people they'd like to send a 'YOU BROOD OF VIPERS' card to...

    You could also use the great story about William Sloane Coffin singing "Comfort ye" to his terrified fellow-demonstrators, arrested and flung into the Washington City Jail, back in the anti-Vietnam days.

    Mem to self, find "Messiah" CD's, put in car... for "going to work music."

  3. Suzy, I often wonder what damage we do to Scriptural literacy through Christmas PAgeants (not to mention the damage done to the sanity of those orgaizing said pageants).

    ANyway, I am going with JtB. However I am using Luke's account of his preaching. I think I will talk mainly about what a prophet does and how that can lead to peace, even if the message may not be quite so "nice". THe hope piece might come in through the Isaiah I am using (11:1-10) and through the question I ask in my opening thoughts about what world will my children grow up into?

    Next week is the Magnificat and Justice so I think the two will end up as a mini-series.

  4. I am in a series on leadership for the Kingdom of God - what kind of leaders should we be as we prepare for the coming of Christ. This week, I am leaning on Isaiah and JtB to call for leaders who call out for justice! Even though it is not comfortable and you probably can not remain sitting in the pews to do it!

  5. I'm back in Philly and scheduled to deliver the D'var (word of) Torah on shabbat. The portion is Genesis 28:10-32:3 [and Hosea 12:13-14:10]. I'm using something I wrote for the sabbatical project, Womanist Midrash, from that unit. I'll be telling the story of the neglected Matriarch, Bilhah, who was passed from Lavan to Rachel to Jacob and later raped by Reuben: the Torah of Bilhah, A Disposable Woman. PS: I got a contract for the book at the Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion meeting in San Francisco last week!

  6. This is pretty much my only Advent sermon this year. Not my ideal ministry plan, but I do like the way it is turning out for my personal schedule!

    I don't think I've every actually preached JtB, or if I have apparently I didn't like it enough to remember it. Anyway, I'm going with him this time. I've been thinking a lot about a line in a YouTube video that I've seen going around on FB. Here's the video on the sponsoring organization's website. For the most part I like it. I mean who else does a quick "What is Advent?" video? There isn't much competition in the genre and it does a decent job.

    However, I find the middle part that starts with "Advent is not Lent" a little out of sync with the Advent lectionary. It goes on to say it's not about repentance. It's a waiting season like Lent is waiting for Easter, but it's a cozy waiting season.

    This feels like it might be my jumping in point for Sunday. Is waiting for the Christ really cozy? John's camel hair does feel cozy. John's message isn't necessarily comfy cozy either. Isaiah's comfort, comfort is crying for cozy, maybe, in a stretch. It doesn't paint the picture of a cozy waiting period, though, the cozy is yet to come.

    Anyway, I'm thinking about the discomfort of the season. I think we have an impulse toward understanding it. We get that things are out of whack in the world; we can see it in the way we "know" it is "right" to put money in the red bucket for Christmas time. We know that things aren't right in the world (in ourselves) and there needs to be a change, a turning around. The impulse is there, so maybe the better use of this season is not to try to tidy our houses and curl up before the fire waiting for our best friend to arrive, but instead to let the camel hair get under our skin a little, and get this WHOLE place looking a little more like a world where righteousness is at home.

  7. I'm doing Mark's version of John the Baptist this week and skipping John's version next week because of the cantata, so I'm only left with one week of John, which is fine with me.

    I've always wondered why nobody makes John the Baptist yard decorations to go with all of the nativity scenes? Can't you see him, all lit in blinking lights, wearing a camel pelt and crying out at passing motorists, "you brood of vipers?" Really gets me in the Christmas spirit.

  8. marciglass,
    that is an interesting image. somehow I don't think they would sell well

  9. Gord,

    thanks for the idea of the world our children will grow up in. I am working with Luke 1: 66-79, Zechariah's prophecy.

  10. First, b/c of the Greek studies, I looked up the Greek and angelos is used instead of prophetais in refering to the prophet that will be making the way straight (and in Malachi, not Isaiah as NRSV says)) and wondering if that preaches to anyone but geeks. I like the messenger verses making John into a prophet...because he seems to have this one job to do...prepare. And yes, I admit I want to mention his likeness to Elijah the hairy prophet but also how repentence and confession don't seem like good news at first too.

    And thinking about the yearning for God that happens in all of us--past and present and how the season of advent lets us have a place to express that. One of my fellow seminarians today said "I wish we could sing Advent songs all year long." Don't know how this all fits together...and feel like I'm pretty green about writing sermons.


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