Awaiting what?

2 December 2012
First Sunday of Advent
Advent 1C (RCL)
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-9
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

The readings on the First Sunday of Advent always focus on the “Second Advent” of Christ, the return of the Son of Man. That means the readings often carry a tone of dire calamity soon to come. Not the best day in the liturgical calendar to celebrate a Name Festival (as for Church of the Advent). How does one await dire calamity and rejoice at the same time for the gift of a congregation named Advent?

The early church Continue reading “Awaiting what?”

The beginning of the beginning

18 November 2012
Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 28B (RCL)

I Samuel 4:1-20
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-25
Mark 13:1-8

I don’t think it overstates the case to say that the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 CE provided the defining crisis for both Christianity and Judaism as we know them today. As long as the Second Temple stood, both Jews and Christians (to the extent that it makes sense to use those words before the destruction) could look to the Temple as the focus of their identity. Questions of identity were not forced on either community.

When the Romans destroyed the Temple, identities which had been taken for granted were called into question. In Paul’s day Continue reading “The beginning of the beginning”

God of the small

11 November 2012
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 17B (RCL)
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
Psalm 127
Hebrews 9:24-48
Mark 12:38-44

Ruth is a favorite book for many Christians (myself included). It tells such a lovely story, of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law getting along, something as rare then as now. But, it tells this charming story to make a much more important time. I believe that Ruth was written at about the same time as all the other post-Exilic literature was written. Ezra/Nehemiah also falls into this category, as does Leviticus. The Jews returning from Babylon faced the question of Jewish identity: What makes us Jewish. Each Continue reading “God of the small”

All Saints’

4 November 2012
All Saints’ Day (observed)
All Saints’ B(RCL)
Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

I have really enjoyed using the RCL, and dealing with many great stories that the BCP lectionary ignored. I’m not overjoyed with the readings for All Saints’ Day this year, however. All the readings (well, except for the Gospel) are options for funerals. That’s not the happiest way to think about All Saints’ Day. Certainly, funerals are Easter liturgies, as are baptisms, and it is by virtue of our baptism that we are saints, and by virtue of death that we enter the great communion of saints, but it just doesn’t seem very upbeat. I would rather read about the saints casting their crowns around the crystal sea, than about God wiping every tear from the eye.

We also have a particularly weird piece of the Lazarus story. Lazarus Continue reading “All Saints’”