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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings~ "...let it be with me according to your word"

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There'd have been no room for the child.
~Madeleine L'Engle

The lectionary readings for this Fourth Sunday of Advent can be found here.

Many of us raised in Protestant denominations have little experience with Mary. My exposure to more Anglo-Catholic traditions in the Episcopal Church while in seminary brought me a whole new appreciation for Marian devotion; I even took a summer class on Mary and Mary Magdalen in art and music. So I am thrilled when we get to Mary's story in our lectionary cycle, and this week we get a double dose: both the story of annunciation and Mary's response, the Magnificat. No matter what your take on Mary the rest of the year, Gabriel's visit and Mary's response make a great seque into Christmas.

Some of you may have preached on Mary and the Magnificat last week; if so perhaps you are going with Samuel and God's promise to establish the house of David, a promise we view through the lens of Jesus' coming. Or perhaps you'll concentrate on the doxology proclaiming God's glory breaking into the world through Jesus that concludes Paul's letter to the Romans.

Are you off lectionary this week? Where is the spirit leading you? Is the week for Lessons and Carols or the Christmas pageant? Let us know where your homiletical musings are leading.

Hope you are all staying sane as we rush headlong towards the nativity!


  1. Just love that Madeline L'Engle quote - has set me off on a deep train of thought that I might make into a blog post later - when I have slightly more time!
    Thanks Rev Dr Mom :)
    Our children are presenting their Nativity offering this Sunday, so I can start working on Christmas Eve and Christmas day services.
    But I look forward to journeying with Revgals - still seems like it's a long way to Bethlehem!
    This year, I'm feeling much more measured on the journey than the headlong rush I seemed to get caught up in last year. That's good, right?
    But there's just a bit of fear that I've forgotten about something vital and that's why I'm enjoying the journey so much!
    Time will tell!
    Someone gave me some frankincense and myrrh to burn so I'm going to see if I can work that into a service along the way.
    Hope you all have room for the Child as you prepare to share his birth with others.

  2. Oh - and we light the pink candle in our Advent wreath this Sunday - to celebrate Mary - even though we're Scottish Presbyterians!
    Does anyone else leave the pink candle for Mary?

  3. I'm so torn because I'd LOVE to preach the Magnificat, but on Sunday it is "virtual Christmas" at our Church because so many people will be away on the 25th, so my current plan is go with the Angel's announcement to the shepherds in Luke 2. I need to do a short (<15 minutes) talk that is accessible to the kids and interesting to the adults and as this is a service where we are pretty much guaranteed to have non-regulars I want it to have a slightly evangelistic tinge. But not in a "hit you over the head" sort of way. I want to find a way to share my excitement about the incarnation, and make people want to experience it - whether its for the 1st or the 101st time.

    And so far I really hate what I've written !

    I think I want to say something about the contrast between the annoncement of a Saviour, Messiah, Lord and the baby in the manger. Something about it showing that God gets involved in the mess of our lives - that he's "in it with us". But I'm not managing to articulate it so far. (Oh yeah, and I'm doing it in French which is my 2nd language...)

    My tentative plan is to come back to the Magnificat on the 25th December. It will be a small service so a short quiet meditation will be in order.

    I also love the Madeleine L'Engle quote - that may feed into my Christmas day talk.

    (Sigh, I'm afraid I'm at the point I get to every time I preach when I just wonder why I ever thought I could do it, or that God would want me to do it... Though our ex-pastor told me that the day I stop feeling like that is the day I should stop.)

  4. I'm still off lectionary this season--so I'm doing the shepherds and the angels this week, but now I wish I was preaching on Mary!
    This is my first advent as a preacher (although I've worked through many advent seasons in the church in other capacities), so the actual organizing of all the activity is very new and chaotic!

  5. I jumped at the chance to do Mary and the Magnificant. Not sure how I will work them together yet - maybe I'll just tell the story, including Mary's visit to Elizabeth and how unborn John's very first time of pointing to Christ prompted Mary's song of praise.

    One of my congregations has a short children's program during worship. The organist was worried about the length of the service - we have to stick pretty close to an hour to allow me enough time to travel to my next congregation - so she wanted to drop communion. I suggested putting the kids in place of the sermon, letting them tell the story, but she didn't want to do that. So we put it to the congregation, drop the sermon or commnuion. They chose to drop communion. I'm flattered that they'd rather hear me preach, but I'm also pondering what it means that they feel communion is optional.

  6. We're dedicating our new hymnals on Sunday, and that means a little hymn sing, so I'm planning a brief mediation on Matthew 1, something about how the story of God's love is told in all those generations listed (echoing Psalm 89, which is in the lectionary), with a nod to the hymnals which contain the music of many generations and which will be handed down to the next generation. Or something like that. It can't be much longer than this comment!

  7. Mary last week, Anna and Simeon for me this week. When I asked the children a few weeks ago what Christmas is, they answered Jesus Birthday. With a number of major birthdays in the congregation recently, I have been pondering how at a birthday celebration we don't usually focus on the birth, but on the life of the individual, so I am thinking about a birthday party for Jesus - who would be invited, would you bother turning up, buying a present, etc.

    Busy day today, almost time to be on the road, so I should get in the shower.

  8. pearl, at a previous church we served hot dogs and birthday cake after the early family-oriented service on Christmas Eve.

    I'm preaching on Mary...I have a sermon I used six years ago (wow, hard to believe I've been preaching that long--that was my first "ordained" Advent) that I like and I think I will use that as a starting point.

    I love the Madeleine L'Engle quote, too, but I hadn't thought about using it Christmas Day--great idea!

  9. Having red Rev Dr Mom's comment, I'm thinking now of ending the Christmas Day service by lighting candles on a birthday cake and singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

    I've done it in the past with kids, but never with adults. Too twee for words ? (Magic candles you can't blow out as a reference to John's Prologue ?)

  10. Rev Dr Mom, we have Christmas cake and fruit punch after the Carol service on 23rd December - summer means cool drinks.

    but a birthday cake with candles would be cool for this Sunday - I'll continue to mull this all over.

  11. We are having the children present the Christmas story at the second service this Sunday. The first is lectionary based and we'll be singing at least one version of the Magnificat.

    We're doing Lessons & Carols for Christmas morning worship.

    As for the seasonal rush, I was struck last week by the third stanza of the sermon hymn:

    And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
    whose forms are bending low,
    who toil along the climbing way
    with painful steps and slow;
    look now, for glad and golden hours
    come swiftly on the wing;
    oh, rest beside the weary road
    and hear the angels sing!

    Sisters in Christ's service, may we all set down our weary burdens for just a moment and listen to the free concert of the angels this week. May it be a balm to your soul and an example to those we serve.

    Advent blessings. NFH

  12. I preached the Magnificat last week and this week is Christmas Pageant. If you feel like it you can hear what I had to say here or my 2010 take on it here (Guess I should maybe not preach on it next year....)

    Mind you, I learned yesterday that my colleague needs to take me up on my offer to preach for our Blue Christmas on SUnday afternoon, so I ma now crafting a brief-ish meditation for that.

  13. Mary and the Magnificat. Last week we had our Children's Pageant, and the version we used was Mary's version of the story. Since there was no sermon, Sunday is a good opportunity to meditate on what the children taught us. I am so using the L'Engle quote, since the thrust of the sermon is that Mary makes a choice to assent to God's will for her...what is God's will for each of us, and do we have the courage or the madness to assent?


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