Nov 24 2014

Allan R. Bevere: On Preaching Advent During Advent

Once again, another Advent season is quickly approaching. For those of us who have been preaching for more than a few years, it can be difficult, after a while, to find a fresh approach to our the traditional Advent texts. And while I am certainly not opposed to new and fresh insights on any given Scripture, I think it is important to say that the task in our preaching is not really to come up with something new and earth-shattering. Rather, our Advent preaching should prepare the way for the earth-shattering celebration of Christmas and Incarnation.


Too much Advent preaching is not really Advent preaching; it is as many describe it, Christmas-lite. But the focus of Advent is not on the birth of Jesus Christ, it is on preparing for his birth. And such preparation is not simply for the arrival of a sweet little child in the manger, but rather for the coming of the Lord of the Universe who will redeem all of creation. Too much preaching during Advent is not only Christmas-lite; it is also too sentimentally focused on babyhood. Advent is the time when we remember that in the infant Jesus eternity approaches earth, and we human beings, so bound to the temporality of time and space, must prepare ourselves to be touched by that eternity when it comes to us in the form of flesh. Robert Southwell, a Jesuit priest and martyr gets to the heart of Advent in his poem:

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold.
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

While the entire Christian calendar  is an affirmation of the significance of the cosmos and the necessity of redemption, it is Advent, more explicitly than any other season, which calls us to an annual rehearsal of Christian eschatology and cosmology, and does so as the first act of each year. The primary theme of the lectionary readings appointed for Advent, including the three weeks prior to the current four week season which remain as vestige of an earlier practice of a seven week observance, is the end of this “futile” world as a new world approaches it from God’s “now-present future.” The Christian Year begins just here, with an intensive and even prolonged meditation on “the end” of all things, which is to say both the culmination or physical end of this universe and its embedded transience and futility as it gives way to the transforming work of the “age to come,” and the redemptive purpose (telos) underlying all things. Advent is thus heady, though hope-filled, stuff. It speaks of destruction and renewal, of judgment and liberation, of “unquenchable fire” and “all things made new.” As we attend to its themes, rhythms, callings, and cosmological boldness in worship through these weeks,  Advent can help us shred our parochial and anthropocentric preoccupations which may be even more acutely on hand during the cultural observance of “Christmastime” (in the US, the day after Thanksgiving through the morning of December 25) and reset us on a footing to appreciate and be transformed by the scope of the incarnation we celebrate during Christmastide.

I dare say that if we focused our preaching on Advent during Advent, we would find much that is fresh in our preaching. Advent texts would be allowed to speak in a powerful way– texts that are ignored, or at least minimized, because we have to get to Christmas before December 25th. We must not treat Advent like children who cannot wait to open their gifts until Christmas Day.

So, for the four Sundays of Advent let us sing, “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free,” and save “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” for the celebration of Christmas. And for those of us who are preaching, let us preach on expectation and on waiting and on listening– on creation and new creation, the universe and its salvation. Let us preach words of hope as to what God is about to do in gracing us with his presence in Bethlehem. Let our proclamation be preparation for the coming redemption of creation.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/on-preaching-advent-during-advent-2/

Nov 24 2014

This Day With God: Lesson in Leadership

Image Source The twofold ministry of the disciples described in Luke 9:1-17 were to drive out all demons and to cure diseases (v. 2). Many leadership principles can be learned in this passage. They include planning, organizing, directing, problem solving, … Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/lesson-in-leadership/

Nov 24 2014

Wrestled With Angels: Broke: When I Remain Thankless

Three weeks ago we started a series called “Broke.” Since we enjoy living like we are broke, I thought it would be good to understand the principles that keep us broke. The first thing we said was if you want to remain broke, live your life like it all belongs to you. Keep fooling yourself […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/broke-when-i-remain-thankless/

Nov 24 2014

Church and Tea: Stewardship Devotion: What’s in Your Wallet

In Matthew 6:21, we learn “21 …where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There are many ways to reflect on this verse, but after seeing a credit card commercial asking, “What’s in Your Wallet?” I have realized that our wallets are like modern-day treasure chests and point to where our hearts are. Let’s […]

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Nov 24 2014

Sacredise: Priorities

Yesterday’s worship – the last for this Church Year – celebrated, as usual, the Reign of Christ. Each year I am struck by how the chosen Gospel readings call us to understand the Reign of Christ in a different way from human empires and power systems. I am also struck by what this means for […]

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/priorities-2/

Nov 24 2014

Beguine Again: Mindful Monday: Covered with Diamonds

There is no great mystery, really; what we need to do is straightforward. I don’t mean that it is easy; the “path” of practice is not a smooth road. It is littered with sharp rocks that can make us stumble or that can cut right through our shoes. Life itself is hazardous. Encountering the hazards…

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/11/mindful-monday-covered-with-diamonds/

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