The Word Made Flesh: Christmas 2C

Some Thoughts for the Second Sunday of Christmas

Texts:

  • Old Testament: Jeremiah 31:7-14 -or- Sirach 24:1-12
  • Canticle: Psalm 147:12-120 -or- Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21
  • Epistle: Ephesians 1:3-14
  • Holy Gospel: St. John 1:(1-9 optional), 10-18

Texts in Summary:

Well first, let’s get on the same page. What are we actually reading?

It’s complicated.

It’s not terribly common for there to be two Sundays between Christmas and Epiphany, and when it does happen, the various lectionaries tend to go a bit haywire. And so, according to the Revised Common Lectionary, we are reading the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel – but this was the appointed reading for Christmas Day. That is, unless your parish reads the Lukan texts on Christmas Eve and doesn’t gather for worship on the 25th. Or if you opt for the shortened Gospel text, which begins at v 10 and only overlaps with the Christmas reading for four verses before embarking into “new” territory. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer appoints a series of options for the Gospel reading, flipping the pattern of the RCL but maintaining the Old Testament and Epistle readings. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church is marking Epiphany this Sunday. Alas, the Revised Common Lectionary is not so common as its framers hoped.

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Doth Magnify the Lord: Advent 4C

Some Thoughts for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Texts:

  • Old Testament: Micah 5:2-5
  • Canticle: The Magnificat (St. Luke 1:46-55) -or- Psalm 80:1-7
  • Epistle: Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Holy Gopsel: St. Luke 1:39-45*

*The Gospel lection is flexible as to guarantee that if the psalm is used in place of the Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin’s song of praise is still read.


Texts in Summary:

As we come to the end of Advent, we make a thematic shift. The lectionary had been pointing us ever forward to the eschaton – starting with apocalyptic imagery at the end of St. Luke’s Gospel and then with John the Baptist’s call to repentance and use of fiery imagery. Now, the RCL is putting everyone in their starting positions.

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Repentance and Fire: Advent 3C

Some Thoughts for the Third Sunday of Advent

Texts:

  • Old Testament: Zephaniah 3:14-20
  • Canticle: Isaiah 12:2-6
  • Epistle: Philippians 4:4-7
  • Holy Gospel: St. Luke 3:7-18

Texts in Summary:

We continue our Advent readings with a second week of John the Baptist.

It’s Gaudete Sunday, one of the two Sundays when rose is the appointed liturgical color. (If you’ve ever wondered why your Advent wreath has three purple or blue candles and one pink one, it’s for this weekend. This tradition is slowly falling out of favor, though. I know of exactly one Lutheran parish that even has rose-colored vestments, and more and more parishes are dropping “the pink one” from their wreaths.) The name comes from the Latin entrance chant, which in turn is taken from this week’s Philippians reading:

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Prepare the Way in the Badlands: Advent 2C

Some Thoughts for the Second Sunday of Advent

Texts:

  • Old Testament: Baruch 5:1-9 -or-
  • Malachi 3:1-4
  • Canticle: The Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79)
  • Epistle: Philippians 1:3-11
  • Holy Gospel: St. Luke 3:1-6

Texts in Summary:

Sunday marks the beginning of Advent’s two-week interlude of John the Baptist. I appreciate the way the lectionary cycle uses John as a pivot from the eschatological focus towards preparation for the Nativity story. After beginning the year with the end of history, we jump backward to John’s ministry preparing the way of the Lord (which, chronologically, takes place after the Nativity) before moving even further back to various events leading up to Christ’s birth:

  • In Year A, we read St. Matthew’s account of the angels appearing to St. Joseph
  • In Year B, we take a break from Sts. Mark and John to read St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation
  • In Year C, we attend to the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth (and get an extra peek at John the Baptist leaping in his mother’s womb)
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A Righteous Branch: Advent 1C

Sermon Thoughts for the First Sunday of Advent

Texts:

  • Old Testament: Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Psalm 25:1-10
  • New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
  • Holy Gospel: St. Luke 21:25-36

Texts In Summary:

As we move into Advent, we begin at the end – with a dose of eschatology and apocalypticism. In November, the lectionary cycle ended with a distinct turn towards the end of things, and we pick up there as well, like a snake devouring its own tail.

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