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.
Texts: Baruch 5:1-9; Malachi 3:1-4; St. Luke 3:1-6
Grace to you and peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Lord, who leads us into the coming Kingdom. Amen.
If you’ve ever been through badlands, you know what good news this. Badlands are areas where the topsoil has given way to soft layers of sedimentary rock – rock so soft that a single rainstorm can shift the landscape. Deep gullies drop down a hundred feet without warning and steep buttes and spires rise just as high. The terrain is so rugged that both the Lakota people and French-Canadian explorers dubbed them “bad land to pass over.” (I’ll spare us all the embarrassment of butchering the original Lakota and French pronunciations.)
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)