FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT ISAIAH 64:1-9; PSALM 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 CORINTHIANS 1:3-9; MARK 13::24-37.
Stir up your power, and come! The psalmist’s plea in Psalm 80:2 has become familiar to us in the Advent prayers. Isaiah wants God to rip the heavens open. Both cry out for an apparently distant, angry God to show up, to save, to restore. When we hear Jesus describing the coming of the Son of Man with stars falling from heaven, it can sound dire and horrible, not like anything we would ever hope for. But when we really look at the suffering of people God loves, we can share the hope that God would tear open the heavens and come.
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT ISAIAH 40:1-21; PSALM 85:1-2; 8-13; 2 PETER 3:8-15a; MARK 1:1-8.
John called people to repent, to clear the decks, to completely reorder their lives so that nothing would get in the way of the Lord’s coming. The reading from Isaiah gives the context for this radical call: the assurance of forgiveness that encourages us to repent; the promise that the coming one will be gentle with the little ones. Isaiah calls us all to be heralds with John, to lift up our voices fearlessly and say, “See, your God is coming!” We say it to one another in worship, in order to say it with our lives in a world in need of justice and peace.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT ISAIAH 61:1-4, 8-11; PSALM 126; LUKE 1:46b-55; 1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-24; JOHN 1:6-8, 19-28.
“Rejoice always,” begins the reading from First Thessalonians. Isaiah and the psalmist make clear that God is turning our mourning into laughter and shouts of joy. “All God’s children got a robe,” go the words of the spiritual. It is not so much a stately, formal, pressed outfit as it is a set of party clothes, clothes that make us feel happy just to put on. We receive that robe in baptism, and in worship we gather for a foretaste of God’s party.
FORTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT 2 SAMUEL 7:1-11, 16; LUKE 1:46b-55; PSALM 89:1-4, 19-26; ROMANS 16:25-27; LUKE 1:26-38.
God keeps the promise made to David, to give him an everlasting throne. The angel tells Mary that God will give David’s throne to her son Jesus. She is perplexed by Gabriel’s greeting and by the news of her coming pregnancy, but she is able still to say, “Count me in.” We who know that Jesus is called king only as he is executed still find it a mystery hard to fathom, but with Mary today we hear the news of what God is up to and say, “Count us in.”
.DECEMBER 30-31FIRST SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS ISAIAH 61:10--62:3; PSALM 148; GALATIANS 4:4-7; LUKE 2:22-40.
In the psalm all the natural world praises God, including all humanity, male and female, young and old. The voices of Simeon and 84-year-old Anna join the chorus today, recognizing what God is doing in Jesus. Simeon’s song is often sung after communion, for we have seen God’s salvation in the assembled community and have held Jesus in our hands in the bread. Then, like the prophet Anna, we speak of Jesus to all who look for the healing of the world.