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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lectionary Leanings~~Rose Sunday edition

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
~~The Book of Common Prayer

This week I get to do something I do only twice a year--don my rose vestments. Once in Advent and once in Lent some traditions take a break from the normal blue or purple of the season in favor of rose, in the best scenario, a lovely shade of pink. While this might seem frivolous, the rose vestments do carry some meaning: this third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday--a time to rejoice (gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice.) Alternatively it's known as "stir-up Sunday," a name taken from the collect of the day (in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition at least; see above) and once seen as the time when preparation for the traditional Christmas puddings and mince pies commenced.  And then there's this explanation:

Why do we wear pink on Advent 3?
Because Mary wanted a girl.


To be honest, some of the readings seem better related to the them of rejoicing than others. Our Old Testament reading from Zephaniah is one of hope and rejoicing, albeit following lots of dire warning. The reading from the letter to the Phillipians begins with the verse from whence "Gaudete  Sunday" takes its name: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

It's when we get to the gospel and John's opening volley, "You brood of vipers!" that things seem, well, out of whack to say the least. John is preparing the way for Jesus and in Luke's telling of the story, he is addressing not Pharisees but the crowds who've gathered to hear the prophet in the wilderness. John goes on to offer advice that presages that Jesus will give during his ministry: basically treat others fairly, kindly and justly.

Will you be rejoicing this Sunday, preachers, as we head into the downhill slide towards Christmas? Or perhaps you are addressing broods of vipers, however they may be construed. Is it time for your pageant, or perhaps a service of Lessons and Carols? Join the discussion and let us know where you are headed; if you're not sure, well join in anyway. You never know when or  from where inspiration will come.


  1. Haha- love the alternate explanation for Gaudete- Mary wanted a girl!
    I've also been wondering about the connection between Laetare and Gaudete. Think explaining these might be a useful way into the sermon this week. And then I'm going with Zeph and Phil, giving JtheB a body swerve this week. We so need some good news among all the recession and accusations of consumerism and all. I feel the need to just give folks a break just now. But it is only Tuesday!
    Time to dig out the rubber duck Nativity for a bit of light relief.

  2. I LOVE IT! Why do we use a pink candle? Because Mary wanted a girl. I have never heard that but I will use it!

  3. For us it is Pageant Sunday. Which leaves me more time to get other stuff done (like write monologues for teh 3 Magi for January 6) and prep a reflection for the Blue Christmas service Sunday afternoon.

  4. I too will use, "Mary wanted a girl!" so tempted to say, "Peace on earth, the daughter of God has come" perhaps that would have changed everything! I hit the prophetic stance pretty hard last week using a clip from Jim Wallis' video series, Justice for the Poor (I highly recommend it). It stirred a lot of conversation. And attendance made it back into the 40's, not great but much better. sigh
    So I'm back to looking at Zeph and Phil, maybe a nod to John early on. Unsure of it yet,but trusting in inspiration. Also picked up a funeral on Friday of DIL of member. such is..December.

  5. It's pageant Sunday for us, too, so I only (ONLY!) have to preach at the early service. Wish we had rose vestments...sigh...

    My 8:15 folks will hear about how the Messiah who is coming will press the "Master Reset" button, thus the language of brood of vipers toward the established religious community. Just as birth changes the life of a family, this particular birth will change the life of a whole nation, which is not the sort of thing that is couched in pretty warm and fuzzy language. Just like a mother when she is in hard labor...

  6. This afternoon I have as a task to assist the Chair of M&P write the letter terminating the Service Contract with the individual who has been doing the Janitorial work at the church (after many years of sub-standard service). We have a new contractor lined up and the Property Committee will be taking the supervision of the contract back. Any hints about how to write the letter????

    In theory it should be simple as the contract states that either party may cancel with 30 days notice. And it is clearly a service contract, not an employment situation (but part of my concern is that the individual may not be terribly clear on the difference).

  7. Mary my previous church was like that but this church does the cantata at both services!!! It is a Sunday to rejoice! And a week to work on dissertation instead of sermon stuff. Sarah

  8. This is Joy Sunday here...I'm preaching on Zechariah paired with the Magnificat (because next week is lessons and carols, so we moved the Magnificat over). It's also my last sunday in this congregation, so the Joy is tempered a bit. Or a lot. Or is different.

    I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to say. Do I stick close to the texts? Do I do something that's more last-day-oriented? Somewhere in between? Does it even matter? There's LOTS of singing this week, and communion (unusual, but it's my last day, so...), plus the Advent Fabric Mosaic to work I only have about 6 minutes to talk anyway. How on earth do I do that???

    1. and of course by Zechariah I mean Zephaniah. duh.

  9. I'm still (kind of sort of) following David Lose' Advent plan for a series on the "hope of Advent." I think the first two worked out ok, and I made some connection between them, so I need to build on that with the brood of vipers and John. We'll see how it goes.

  10. I had these texts for our church's Advent meditation book. This sonnet based mainly on Zeph and Phil is what I offered: (I am wondering if "unsurpass├ęd" would be better than "unparalleled" in the ending line.

    Sometimes I feel that I cannot rejoice.
    The loneliness creeps in and holds on tight;
    Anxiety soon overtakes my sight,
    My thoughts so dense I cannot give them voice.
    The world careens along—there is no choice.
    We leave the broken ones to win their fight
    And turn the outcasts out, as if that's Right.
    How can we shout within the noise—rejoice!?
    And yet when life becomes too much we must
    Rejoice the more, give thanks, cry out, implore
    The One who gathers outcasts from the dust,
    Who raises up the broken ones to soar,
    Renew your love in me I pray and trust
    Your unparalleled peace on us will pour.

  11. I was thinking of looking at John the Baptist this week, but have decided to add in Luke 1: 26-38. this will also fit in better with the theme of Joy. this week a bell for each person to place in the manger.
    speaking with a member of the congregation this afternoon,we were talking about joy, and I told him this Sunday we are looking at Joy, and I was wondering about music - now I have to get 'Joy is the flag flown high' and I've got that joy, joy, joy, down in my heart' out of my head.

  12. I do have a sermon from 6 years ago called "Rejoice but..." which will be adapted. Mostly Zephaniah, with some Philippians and a bit of Luke.... but I know it's not quite right "as is" but, irritatingly, don't know what's wrong with it.

  13. I am fascinated by the difference in perspective between Zephaniah and JtB; the former sees kingdom time as A joyful celebration of inclusion and love, while the latter could not be more opposite, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I am going to invite the congregation to think about which perspective they would prefer to have as their primary one (because I don't want to discount either one, but I do think the present world looks quite different depending on what you think is coming).

    "Stir up Sunday," from the start of the collect, used to be at the end of the Pentecost season, giving one time to both make the fruitcake and to let it mellow a bit in rum soaked cheesecloth; just thinking about it makes my mouth water for my mom's light, moist, and well-soaked version! With the shift in timing for use of the collect, it really has lost something as a culinary prompt...


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