23 December 2012
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Advent 4C (RCL)

Micah 5:2-5a
Canticle 15
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-59

This week’s reading from Luke’s Gospel includes the Magnificat, Mary’s song, which serves as something of a prologue to Luke’s Gospel. Jesus’ mission will be about the salvation of his people, and the Magnificat lays out the program — God has come to the help of Israel, cast down the mighty from their thrones, scattered the proud in their conceit, filled the hungry and sent the rich away empty. Mary’s song parallels Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 1, which she sings when she discovers she is pregnant. Of course, for Hannah and Mary the circumstances are very different. Hannah was Eli’s second wife, and could not get pregnant, and her co-wife Peninnah teased her mercilessly about that. Obviously, she was very happy to discover she was pregnant. Mary, on the other hand, is betrothed, and pregnant by someone other than her fiance. Not a happy circumstance.

The first line of her song is, “He has regarded the humiliation of his slave girl.” But in what parallel universe has God Continue reading “Vulnerability”

Training ourselves

Sunday 16 December 2012
Third Sunday of Advent
Advent 3C (RCL)

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Canticle 9
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

Last week, in Luke’s Gospel, we read about the John the Baptist proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The sins he had in view were Israel’s sins, the sins that got them (in the mind of the deuteronomistic theologians) thrown out of the land in the first place. John was gathering up a new people in the wilderness, and bringing them across the Jordan back into the land. Not only did this re-integrate those who were, for whatever reason, separated from the people, but it also called into question the legitimacy of the current structure in Jerusalem. Luke opened Continue reading “Training ourselves”

New clothes

9 December 2012
Second Sunday of Advent
Advent 2C (RCL)
Baruch 5:1-9
Canticle 16
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

With the second Sunday of Advent, we move away from looking toward the future coming of Christ (the end of the season after Pentecost focuses on the coming Kingdom, and the first Sunday of Advent focuses on the advent of the Son of Man at the end of history), and begin to anticipate our celebration of the first arrival of the Christ. We look at the figure of John the Baptist and his announcement of the coming one. We hear a prophetic announcement of the return of God’s people to Jerusalem.

Luke portrays John the Baptist as the last of the line of prophets empowered by the Spirit. When the Spirit descends upon Jesus, the age of the prophets is over Continue reading “New clothes”