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It’s the last Sunday in Advent. We’re rounding third (or fourth, if we’re talking Sundays) and heading for home this week. Get excited!

The Revised Common Lectionary Year C Advent readings focus a lot on John the Baptist and his life, and we don’t even get to Mary until week 4. We finally meet her and Elizabeth as they greet each other for the first time since the annunciation, and Mary delivers her Magnificat, magnifying and praising the Lord for the reversal of Israel’s fortunes. I imagine this is where much of our preaching will land as we look ahead to Christmas, but let’s look at what other homiletical opportunities we have in the readings.

We have Micah 5’s prophecy of a Davidic monarch who would usher in an era of peace for Judah. Micah’s context is that the Northern and Southern kingdoms were facing military threat from the Assyrians. Might there be some implications for our time, in which terrorism threatens peace the world over? It may be worth exploring.

Psalm 80:1-7 come from a prayer for Israel’s restoration. I’m noticing this perfect tension between today’s pain and tomorrow’s impending relief. I think it’s a great mood to set on the last Sunday of Advent, and some of us may even want to bring that into our Longest Night/Blue Christmas services.

Hebrews 10:5-10 talks about the corporeal reality of Jesus; God comes to us in flesh. “He was born to die,” is what is often said, right? You almost can’t help but look toward Easter with this text, and you’ll no doubt have to wrestle with atonement theory if this is where you’re being led to preach. I’m praying with you as you sift through this!

Where are you heading so far in your sermonizing? What texts reach out to you? What insights are popping up? Are you bringing in any of the Nativity texts? Let’s discuss!

16 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Singing and Sacrifice

  1. Well, I am just getting to reading the texts but I appreciate this post. I am definitely going with Luke, but pairing it with the Psalm. At least the Psalm will be read, and will be the text I wrap the Advent Candle Lighting around. (yes, I write these week by week, because, well, me.)

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  2. Thank you for this, Denise!

    I’ve just started picking at some bits and pieces, anticipating that something will come together.

    I notice that Mary magnifies God and God (same word) does great things for Mary. That kind of goes with Hebrews: God comes to us in the flesh and then we communicate (enflesh?) God in the world. Also, Christ’s body given to (for) us, and we become Body of Christ.

    And then, in “This Week in Eisegesis” — or rather, I hope it’s not! — I want to somehow emphasize some things about church membership, which was most definitely inspired by your Pastor is Political essay this week. If it’s not embodied, is it real?

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  3. I have thought, for the last three weeks, that I had an Advent 4C sermon that would, with a bit of juggling, be suitable for this Sunday. I have just discovered that I don’t. I have to write a new sermon from scratch….. oh well. Two sentences from Micah have leaped out at me: “He will stand and shepherd his flock. . . . and he will be our peace”. Might try to do something with that.

    And we get to sing Gabriel’s message, which is one of my favourite Christmas hymns (“Most highly flavoured gravy…..”).

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  4. With all the songs in the text this week I was doing a little searching…we all know music works differently in the brain and moves us in different ways….found some interesting info quoted in Platos Republic, Socrates is supposed to have supported a ban on musical innovation because innovation in music always preceded a change in the state. Remember how our elders were afraid of rock and roll and the Beatles? And apparently in Leipzig in 1989 gatherings of people congregated at the Berlin Wall–singing! When the wall finally came down the state police were asked why they didn’t break up those crowds like other protesters, they replied that they didn’t have a contingency plan for song!
    Can we sing Marys song today and bring harmony to a dissonant world?

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    1. I’m not so sure Mary’s song brings more harmony in the dissonant world as much as it continues to turn the world upside down, but I think I hear what you’re circling around here with songs as part of movements and revolution in the world. I was just tipped off to David Lose’s article for this week and it reminded me of what I read you thinking about here. It might be helpful for you. http://www.davidlose.net/2015/12/advent-4-c-singing-as-an-act-of-resistance/

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  5. In the middle of writing a paper on sacramental theology and one on lifelong Christian formation, this Sunday’s gospel is simmering and questions are bubbling to the top: How do we recognize when God is birthing a miracle in the hidden spaces of someone else’s life? What causes us to break out into song? And what do we do when the “good news” of someone else’s song isn’t really unambiguously good news for us? (thinking of how the Magnificat sounds to someone who’s powerful already)

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    1. I often wonder, preaching this in a wealthy nation, if people realize what Mary is saying/singing. Preaching this in midst of a current world empire where we all sit in relative comfort and power. While I do believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, the richest among us all will have to give up some so that all can have enough.

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