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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Lectionary Leanings~~Preparing the way edition

Can you believe it's December already? Yikes! And we're on to the second Sunday of Advent. As an added bonus today is my birthday so I know it's exactly three weeks until Christmas. This week's theme of preparing the way is right on target in more ways than one.

Let us begin our preparations this week with one of my favorite Advent prayers:

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, 
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do 

seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways 

long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy 

seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, 

walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”

                     ~~Henri J. M. Nouwen

The lectionary this week offers us two choices from the Old Testament: Malachai or Baruch. Either way, chances are these authors are not that familiar to our congregations. Baruch presents a joyful picture of Israel gazing on the glory of God, her children restored, while Malachi foreshadows the message of John the Baptist we hear in the much more familiar gospel passage from Luke: prepare the way for the one who is coming to make right the world. And in a break from usual practice, our psalm this week also comes from Luke--the Song of Zechariah, the beautiful and prophetic words spoken when Zechariah's muteness is broken as he names his son "John." 
How will you be preaching "preparation" on this Advent Sunday? Will you take on the familiar story of John the Baptist, or tackle the less well known prophets? Or perhaps you are observing Advent off-lectionary....wherever you're headed, join in the discussion, and grab some birthday cake while you're here!


  1. Happy Birthday Rev Dr Mom! I'm going with Malachi and John the Baptist this Sunday. Not quite sure where I'm taking them yet but I googled a recipe for home made soap - and it contains caustic soda! So I'm messing with the idea of something that does a good job containing something nasty. Hoping to be more organised this week - the last few weeks have seen me get up early Sunday morning to start writing. And I really want to get the tree up this weekend too.

  2. Happy birthday to you!
    No idea where I'm going yet. Theme is peace but where I'm going to find that in these readings is anyone's guess. Any suggestions would be welcome!

    1. I'm wrestling with that as well. So far the only thing I've got is the 'salvation of God' re-stores us to the state of shalom. So John's call to repentance is a call to turn from those things which pull us away from God's salvation. Now - how to unpack that in an engaging understandable way?

  3. This week I'm off lectionary and actually extra-Biblical! (I just made that up, but I like it. I'm going to use it as a pejorative description of bad preaching. Not that there is such a thing as bad preaching. In my church. Wait. I'm digging myself in to a hole here.)
    The service theme is hospitality and I'm doing something (maybe first person?) with the innkeeper from Luke. What? There is no innkeeper in the Bible?! But he's in every Christmas pageant!
    I usually hold myself to pretty high standards for Biblical preaching. But I am lettin' loose this season. Voices from the Stable. Thank goodness the kids are doing the animals next week, or I'd be writing myself a skinny donkey sermon.

  4. Happy Birthday, Rev. Dr. Mom!

    I am preaching on Guadalupe. I do every year because we celebrate the Feast of Guadalupe. This year I think I'm going in the direction of narratives, hope and hospitality. But not sure. Way too early in the process. I'm also thinking about putting my notes from the many sources I'm consulting on my blog. Wondering if that would be helpful to others. Kind of Lindsey Black/Kate Huey style. What do you all think?

  5. I am using the Luke reading for next week which has John's actual preaching since a) I hate spending half of Advent reading about JtB and b) our Sunday School Pageant is next Sunday. Pairing it with Malachi and the Refiners fire and asking the sermonic question "Ready to be Refined?"

    My early thoughts are here

    1. That's a good idea - I have a guest preacher next week,so I could combine the readings as well!

    2. Doing the same thing with the same readings as Gord, but with Zephaniah instead of Malachi!

  6. I'm trying to put something together using Zachariah's song plus Elisabeth's greeting to Mary and the silence/seclusion that preceeded it. What I want is to invite the congregation parallel their journey as they go from wonder to trust to confession as they identify with E and Z's words. Or something like that !

    Also playing with the idea of opening by telling the "story so far" briefly from Elisabeth's perspective.

    So I know where I want to go (dangerous this early in the week), I have my opening and closing paragraphs and all I'm missing is the body of the sermon - which will be the difficult bit.

  7. Happy Birthday!

    I've decided to use the Year D lectionary this year which uses passages we don't see much of in A, B and C. It begins with Luke1:1-25, the annunciation to Zechariah. This week is Luke 1:57-80, focusing on the birth and naming of John and Zechariah's song - skipping Mary and the Magnificat entirely. :)

    My plan for this week is to begin with the YouTube video of the song "Where is the line to see Jesus?", then continue with a sermon titled "Is this the line to see Jesus" looking at how John prepared the way for the Christ by his efforts in turning Israel back to God. I'll be building on last weeks "Ready or Not" - the new thing has already begun in Zechariah and Elizabeth, we don't have to wait for the baby to be born.

    Of course, we all know what happens to plans . . . I usually end up rewriting the entire thing on Sunday mornings.

    For the curious - The book is Year D: a Quadrennial supplement to the Revised Common Lectionary - author Timothy Matthew Slemmons, Cascade Books 2012 (available on Kindle too.) I think it's going to be a real challenge for me and for the congregation.

  8. I am roughly following David Lose's outline for an Advent sermon series on "the promise of Advent;" up this week: the promise that's easy to overlook. Where exactly I will go with that is yet to be determined.

  9. birthday blessings! I am continuing on my sermon series on the trimesters of pregnancy aligning with the readings. Last week was first trimester, and signs and wonders. This week it will be about seeing what is happening. ..and how we lose control over our own bodies when we are pregnant - we become the property of the community (viz pats on the belly, unwanted advice, labor and delivery stories). Imagine what it must have felt like for Mary to so lose control over her body and even over her child's story, since it had been the "property" of the words of prophets and such for millenia...but where are the blessings except in loss of control?

  10. Mmm, good thoughts mibi!
    I am totally off lectionary going with Simeon and Anna (spoiler alert - a baby is coming). I'm thanking Kate Middleton for my new sermon title (The Royal Treatment) -- because my thinking was already going along the lines of why God chose to come to us as a child, how we should treat each child as the one we have been waiting for, how as older folks we can be confident that the future is in good hands (I think this sermon is maaaaybe because I've heard one too comments about "kids these days" recently). In other words, we should treat all children as royal. We have a young woman in our church who's really involved in the anti-trafficking movement, so going to work that in. Anyway, that's where I'm going now. And as my new goal is to have a frist draft on Tuesday, and I have an hour a half until my evening things if I get no interruptions, I best get going.

  11. Happy Birthday!

    I'm going with the Advent Candle theme of hope, peace, joy love - and this week is peace. I read the text before I selected the theme, and it sounded like I could make it work then, but now? I'm pondering how repentance restores peace, and devoutly hoping that some on-line commentary readings will help flesh it out.

    1. Actually, that is a cool sermon title: Repentance Restores Peace.

  12. Love preaching John the Baptist.
    Happy Bday to Dr. Mom. Hope it was a good one. Mine is on the way. Yup, another December Bday.
    So, I am really missing a guy in my previous congregation who was JtheB. I read scripture up until the "prepare the way" part and then he showed up munching on chips(for loctus) and with a jar of honey.
    He was a great actor and added to the message. He also dressed accordingly with help from his wife. It was good. But, I am flying solo on Sunday.
    Well, I will have the Holy Spirit, but you know what I mean.

  13. This Sunday is the Annunciation story in Luke... but not the Magnificat. Hopefully it will be a two-voice sermon with Mary and Elizabeth. Not talking directly to each other but sort of a listening in to their thoughts...It works in my to get it written out.

  14. If you are preaching on Guadalupe (or even if you aren't) be sure to go here: The images of Guadalupe expand the horizons of my questions and thoughts about the realm of the Holy.

  15. this week I am preaching on Peace. reading the song of Zechariah, and no idea how the two will go together. Keeping John the Baptist for next week. also not sure how that fits with joy, but that is next week's dilemma.


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