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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...

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