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Explore Advent, Part 3 – Over the Sundays in Advent there will be a presentation each week focusing on that week’s scriptures, art and commentary and how they demonstrate the themes of advent. Let’s continue with Advent 3.
A. Voices for Advent 3
“In Advent the church emphasizes these ways of continual change: Repentance. Conversion of life. Self-examination. Awakening. Deepening. “
– Suzanne Guthrie
B. “You Don’t Want to Be a Prophet (Isaiah, Luke)
“Christmas without Anglicans?” – Anglican contributions to Advent and Christmas carols.
“Isaiah 35 is a powerful poetic word of comfort for the mourning Judahite exiles, who lost their temple, land, and sovereignty. Their suffering is manifested in “weak hands” (verse 3), “feeble knees” (verse 3), a “fearful heart” (verse 4), obscured vision (verse 5), hindered hearing (verse 5), broken bodies (verse 6), and silent tongues (verse 6). The literary “body” constructed in Isaiah 35 has been utterly overwhelmed by despair and weariness. Their capacities needed to move through this world have been diminished. The exiles feel God’s sorrow in their very bodies.
–From “Working Preacher”, 2016
“In this week’s Old Testament passage, the prophet Isaiah envisions a new world. The wilderness — the dry and barren land where the Israelites once wandered — is reborn into paradise. Eden returns, as crocuses bloom, forests proliferate, and a new highway, a “Holy Way,” is forged in desert sands. God promises that those who have been in exile “shall return,” and that “everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.”
“Such a vision can be hard to conjure when the world around us is so broken. We know and experience suffering all around us, often within our deepest selves. Seasons of spiritual dryness keep us from sensing God’s presence. It can be difficult to believe that God is already remaking the world into a place where “sorrow and sighing flee.”
“In Jesus’s own time, people were just as wary of utopian visions. John the Baptist surely knew the words of Isaiah, but his faith must have been tested — sitting as he was in a prison cell and hearing about the works of Jesus.
“In this week’s Gospel, John sends word to ask Jesus if he is “the one who is to come.” “Are you the Messiah we have hoped for,” John is asking, the one who will restore the world from a place of rampant suffering to a place of joy?
“Jesus does not answer John directly. Instead, he tells John that there is healing — the blind can see and the deaf can hear — and that, indeed, death itself is on its way out. “The dead are raised,” Jesus says, “and the poor have good news.”
“Into a world of lament, Jesus has come, living among us, and bearing the suffering with us. This is, in fact, the essence of Christmas.
“The incarnation means that God in Jesus descends into the wilderness of this world — a place of sighs and sorrows — and inaugurates a new creation where the desert of death can begin to team with new life. Jesus paves the way — the Holy Way — with every act of healing, each word of kindness. He is indeed “the one to come,” and he is already here.
From Summerlee Staten
The 2022 collection on Giving Tuesday of $1,175 exceeded teh 2021 total of $899. This should help to pay for 5-6 months of the Village Harvest in 2023. We serve about 190 people a month. Wonderful!
Also at the end November, the United Thank Offering collection was $484.73, rolling past November, 2021’s total of $268.87. The UTO is one of the oldest women’s ministry. Here is a short article on the UTO.
From a recent article in Episcopal News Network. “Practicing gratitude can be “a truly transformative thing,” UTO Board President Sherri Dietrich told ENS, since it helps people focus on what they have instead of what they might be lacking. “It just makes your life happier,” she said, and that can have an impact on others. “I really believe gratitude is one of those things that changes a circle of the world around you and can spread from there.”
Rev. Heather Melton, UTO staff officer called practicing gratitude “a healthy and important practice” and added that gratitude is sorely needed today. “We live in a time where people feel disconnected. Gratitude is one way to notice not only the thing someone is doing for you but also the connection we have with that person. Gratitude is a reminder that we need each other, from the person who makes your coffee to your best friend.”
Thanks to all who contributed!
From Bishop Rob Wright, Diocese of Atlanta
This time of the year we turn to Mary for inspiration. The angel seeks her out and shares God’s wild plan for her life. Mary is at a crossroads- faith and the real world have intersected.
Mary answers God in a song that has three parts. She answers based on who she is, whose she is and her purpose as a co-creator with God. The angel calls her “favored.” Meaning she was aware that God had stepped into her life and made a difference. Her remembering that she is “favored” helps her navigate her feelings of confusion and fear.
Her feelings are passing, her status in God is non-negotiable. For Mary, God is a great thing-doer; a rescuer of the cast outs and the filler of empty bellies. At her crossroad, Mary remembered her God is a promise keeper. Now, she can accept and acclaim that God’s purpose for her life is the highest purpose for her life. “May your word be fulfilled with me” was her song at the crossroad of her life. May her song be ours also.
From Songs in Waiting
The Song of Mary – The Magnificat
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
“my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
“From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
“He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
“He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
“He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
“He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
“The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
It is a song that speaks profoundly about being “childlike.” Luke focuses his entire Christmas narrative around the person of Mary, who was probably just a child, a young girl who was perhaps twelve to fourteen years old, as it was customary for Jewish girls to marry just after puberty
In this light, the Christmas story is of a child having The Child
When people begin to bring their children to Jesus for his blessing, the disciples send them away, seeing the children as a waste of his precious time. But Jesus rebukes them, saying, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14), He is saying that the deepest spiritual knowledge, while hidden from the wise and learned, is revealed to children. He even goes so far as to say that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like children: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Jesus often refers to us all as “children of God”
The name Magnificat comes from the first word in the Latin Vulgate translation of this song, “magnify” or “glorify.” Most probably a compilation of phrases from the Psalms, various Old Testament prophetic books, and Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel, the Magnificat has been part of Christian liturgy at least since the time of Saint Benedict in the fifth and sixth centuries.
The Magnificat has been recited every day for centuries by Christians, chanted by monks, and set to music by composers of every age, perhaps the most famous being Johann Sebastian Bach’s composition, which he wrote for Christmas Day 1725
It is on behalf of this baby that majestic buildings like Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris have been constructed and great saints like Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa have so wholeheartedly dedicated their lives to the service of God and humankind. It is to the glory of the one whose birth we celebrate that Bach composed, El Greco painted, Augustine of Hippo preached, and Pascal wrote, and because Jesus the Christ was born countless individuals would receive comfort as they went serenely to their martyrdom years after his own death. Knowing all this, it is a deeply moving experience to stand today in Nazareth, in the Church of the Annunciation, the site where it is believed Mary was first confronted by the angel. The lines in the first scene of Shakespeare’s Hamlet seem to say it best: “So hallowed and so gracious is the time.”
However, more than just being a song of a child about a child, this song is a call to each of us who desire to be followers of Christ, leading us toward becoming more childlike in our responses and relationship with our Creator. Out of the depth of her joy, Mary sings of the crucial qualities of childlike-ness that the Christ Child, when he became an adult, urged his followers to embrace.
This candle reflects the joy that comes through Jesus’ arrival, and through the salvation he has gifted us. During this third week of advent, this Sunday celebrates the passage Philippians 4:4-5, its verses extolling readers to “rejoice” for “indeed the Lord is near.”
This Sunday is traditionally known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoice” Sunday, so called because of the heightened excitement in anticipation for the birth of Christ
During a time where depression is at an all-time high and people seem to be in the most despair, this candle offers a bright light during a dark time.
It is also known as the Shepherd Candle to highlight the joy the shepherds experienced when they received the good news about Christ’s birth (Luke 2:8-20). During the middle of the night, the darkest time, the shepherds encountered angels.
The third candle of Advent has an unusual place. In most advent wreaths, it is the one candle that is a different color, pink, than the others. There is something unique, more spontaneous, and celebratory about the theme of the third week of Advent compared to the others.
In contrast to purple, pink or rose represents joy and celebration. One of the ancient church’s popes gave a citizen a pink rose on the third Sunday of Lent, symbolizing the moment of joy amidst Lent’s fasting and penance. Therefore, when Catholic priests modeled Advent celebrations on Lent, they wore rose-colored robes and set the third Sunday of December as the time to remember joy. The pink or rose-colored advent candle is lit on that third Sunday.
It’s also worth noting that more so than the other three Advent themes, joy is something we associate with spontaneous action. Hope, peace, joy, and love are all things that God places in us and should be ongoing attitudes in our lives. However, hope and peace are generally seen as inner qualities that we cultivate by meditating on ideas like God’s provision. Love is something we do, but also something we cultivate and meditate on.
Joy tends to have a more spontaneous effect. Joy can motivate us to celebrate or worship with glorious abandon (like David did when he danced in front of the ark of the covenant). In that light, it’s appropriate that the advent candle representing joy is a different color, highlighting the different nature of joy compared to the other advent themes.
01 Prelude “Mary Did You Know” – Larry Saylor, guitar
02 Lighting of the 3rd Advent Candle
04 Sermon – Rev. Tom Hughes
05 Communion – “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” – Larry Saylor, guitar
07 Prayer for Safe Travel
The third Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday.” The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete (“Rejoice”). Its name is taken from the entrance antiphon of the Mass, which is: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. This is a quotation from Philippians 4:4-5, and in Latin, the first word of the antiphon is “gaudete”. We are most of the way through the season, closer to Christ’s birth and so that is the emphasis rather than coming again.
We light the rose colored candle in addition to the other 2 violet ones. Purple is a penitential color of fasting while pink (rose) is the color of joy. Long ago the Pope would honor a citizen with a pink rose (or a rose) Priests then would wear pink vestments as a reminder of this coming joy. Rose is also used during Laetare Sunday (the fourth Sunday of lent) to symbolize a similar expectation of the coming joy of Christ’s coming in Easter. The third Sunday of Advent is rose (pink) because pink symbolizes joy, the joy that Jesus is almost here. Adult Christian Ed discussed “Rejoice! What promises of God give you cause to rejoice?”
Theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death — can take that love away.” Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. As Nouwen says, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
This is break from some of the penitential readings earlier in Advent. How will you express joy this week? Consider the good things that have been given to you.
Besides the emphasis in joy, this is also “Stir up Sunday!” The collect has the words, ” Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins”. Let’s change the “our sins” to “missing the mark.” How can we hit the mark ? One way is to advantage of our opportunities.