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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 23, 2017


It is easy joy to prepare for the birth of a child.

Parents delight in making a place for newborn in a home where family and friends all pitch in to make the birth a happy event and to be sure the child is welcomed into the world in love and safety.

We all want to hold a perfect, sweet human infant.

Time slows down for a moment as we revel in the glory of new life.

Matthew, Luke and John give us this experience for Jesus in their stories of the advent.

Granted, Joseph and Mary had to work harder to find a place for their child to be born.

And yet, we imagine the sweet hay of the manger and the innkeeper’s animals warming the air with their breath.

Oil lamps burn with soft light and out in the night sky, a great blazing star lights the way to a mysterious birth in Bethlehem.

The night is silent. Time slows.

Mark breaks our reverie with John the Baptizer, striding in from his desert wanderings, reeking of sweat, honeycomb, and animal skin, telling all who listen that there is One who w...

December 22, 2017


If I were a prophet I’d tell the whole world,

You worry too much about money

And not enough about one another.

God made diversity

And said it was good.

You see your differences

And fear the other.

The other is a subconscious tool,

A way, a means of survival, a numbing way

To define the people you don’t want

To worry about.

Just kick them out or keep them out

Or lock them up or move away from them

Or close your heart to them.

Because that explains everything;

If only we can protect ourselves

From them, all will be well.

If I were a prophet I’d yell it from the rooftop

That God loves everybody, not just the people

Who look like you, and dress like you,

And pray like you,

And eat like you.

Or maybe I’d whisper,

“I love you…

 And God does too.”

To one lonely person,

And maybe she or he would

Pass it on, “I love you…

 And God does too.”

Mary Stetson

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