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December 24, 2017


The Fourth Sunday of Advent


“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness,

proclaiming a baptism of repentance

for the forgiveness of sins.”

Mark 1: 4

Reflecting on the text

It’s almost Christmas; in fact, you may be lighting this last candle on Christmas Eve.  John the Baptist is an odd addition to the faces at the manger!  But before we turn to angels and shepherds and magi, Mark’s Gospel holds before us the good news that will continue to break:  “Repentance” means “to turn around.”  The Common English Bible translates the Greek as “changing … hearts and lives.”  That’s the turnaround in our wilderness, toward “God with us.”

Lighting the candles

Light the first, second, and third candles

on the Advent wreath;

light the fourth candle (purple) for the coming of Immanuel,

“God with us.”  

December 17, 2017

The Third Sunday of Advent


Crying Out

    "... the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

'Prepare the way of the Lord,

make his paths straight.' "

Mark 1: 3

Reflecting on the text

The herald cries out in the wilderness; the Common English Bible translates "cries out" as "shouts."  And the wilderness shouts out its joy when the Messiah comes; it rejoices and blossoms like the desert rose.  The symbol of the rose recalls the prophetic vision of  Isaiah 35.  Growth, joy, life - the birth of the Messiah transforms all creation.  In art, literature, and poetry over the centuries, Jesus Christ himself was symbolized by a rose.  The custom of using the rose as an Advent symbol can be traced back to the 13th century.  It was Martin Luther's favorite symbol of the Christian faith.  It blooms among us as a sign of hope and joy at the center of our Chancel cross.

Lighting the candles

Light the first and second candles (purple)

on the Advent...

December 10, 2017

The Second Sunday of Advent



"As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,

'See, I am sending my messenger

ahead of you,

Who will prepare your way ...' "

Mark 1: 2

Reflecting on the text

Who are God's messengers today?  What are God's messages today?

Why are the prophets so important to the story of Jesus Christ?


Who has prepared your way, going ahead to make a path?

Lighting the candles

Light the first and second candles (purple) on the Advent wreath,

giving thanks for those who go when sent, and who open our eyes and ears to the coming of Christ among us.

December 3, 2017

The First Sunday of Advent



"The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,

the Son of God."

Mark 1: 1

Reflecting on the text

Today we begin a year with the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday lectionary readings.  Mark does not tell about Jesus' birth or childhood, but jumps right into the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.

If you were writing the "good news" of Jesus, where would you begin?

Where does your faith story begin?

Lighting the candle

Light the first candle (purple) on the Advent wreath,

giving thanks for the beginning of Advent.

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