December 17, 2023
Advent 3B – George Yandell
“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us.” This is the beginning of the collect for the third Sunday of Advent in our prayer book. It dates from the late 8th century. John the Baptist is the great stirrer, the great agitator in the gospel reading today.
There were two movements in Galilee in the 3rd decade of the 1st century. Both were intensifications of Jewish belief and practice. First came the baptizing movement of John the Baptist, then came the Kingdom movement of Jesus. Some would say they together make up the hinge point in the history of salvation.
John was possessed. Possessed by God’s wild urging to say it all before time ran out. He knew in his core that God was coming. He felt deep empathy with God and rage at everyone’s insensitivity to God’s prophetic word. As he stood knee-deep in the Jordan, he railed out, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” People came from far and wide, heard and believed John. Some scholars state that it was through John’s ministry that Jesus perceived the nearness of the kingdom of God and Jesus’ own relation to it. For Jesus, John is the beginning of the Good News, the Gospel.
John’s legacy of powerful confrontation is dimmed now by our hearing and re-hearing his call to repent.
December 3, 2023
1st Sunday of Advent – Katharine Armentrout
Asking Questions as We Wait
The lighting of that Advent candle on the wreath creates a light of love and hope that shines into our winter darkness. That light also shines into the beginning of our liturgical year. It lights our way into Advent – the time when we prepare for the coming of the Christ child AND we prepare for the coming of Christ at the end of the age.
You see Advent carries both meanings. Advent means that we are not just waiting for Mary and Joseph to get to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ-child, but we are also anticipating that consummation of the promise that Jesus will come at the end of time in Great glory. As one writer said: “[Advent] is a time to reflect on the unexpected nature of Jesus’ humble birth and join in the anticipation of when he will come again to reunite Heaven and Earth once and for all.”
The very name “Advent” comes from Latin, meaning ‘a coming’ or ‘arrival’; and its concept comes to us from the earliest time of the church, before the gospels were even written. The early church was waiting, waiting for the “parousia”- for the promised second coming of Christ. For His Advent. And it is this waiting that is the focus of our Advent season.
Now, for those of us old enough to remember, Advent had a definite penitential overtone…a worrying,
November 26, 2023
Proper 29A – Christ the King – George Yandell
Christ the King – an odd title for a peasant Galilean prophet, a sage. Messiah, yes, but king? Jesus pushed against the kings of his day because he saw they were corrupt, were extorting punishing taxes from the poor. Those kings had even turned the priests of the temple into pawns for working the program to oppress God’s people. So Christ as King must mean something more and different from worldly kings.
Today’s collect invites us to entertain the future God intends for humanity: to restore all things in Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We pray that we all may be brought together under his most gracious rule. It marks the end of the Church year. Next Sunday is Advent Sunday. It begins the brief season when we prepare for the observance of Jesus’s birth. Today culminates and yet prepares us for what’s coming.
The observance of Christ the King Sunday is a recent addition to the church calendar in western Christendom as Ted noted in his sermon last Sunday. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, when the world had been ravaged by the First World War. Pope Pius envisioned a dominion ruled by a King of Peace who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be served, but to serve. [This paragraph adapted from an article by Libby Howe in “Christian Century”, Nov. 4 2020.] The Episcopal Church began to observe it with the “new” 1976 prayer book.
November 19, 2023
25th Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 28 – Ted Hackett
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…
We are now just two weeks from Advent… And you can tell because our society is celebrating Christmas… At least in retail outlets…
Advent….the season of preparation is only two weeks away… Advent used to be an odd sort of thing and it still is, really… Because it is the end of one liturgical year and the beginning of the next one…
The Jewish sense of history went on a line…from creation to fulfillment with the coming of the Kingdom of God at the end… We still look for that in the big picture of history…
But the Church year can’t operate that way…we have to repeat the year over and over…till history is over… And as Yogi Berra famously said: “It ain’t over till its over!” So Advent celebrates both beginning and ending…
The end is final, last judgement… The new beginning is the Birth of Jesus
Around the fourth century Advent became more and more a penitential season…probably because the Church grew to become the religion of the Roman Empire and sin was more obvious
By the Middle Ages Advent was called “Little Lent” and was very penitential… Clergy often wore black during Advent… It was, after all… The End of the World!
And as also happened with Lent…there was “doom &