This Sunday after USA Thanksgiving, are you ready to embrace Advent?candle

Heaven knows, we could all do with some light.

Already the memes have started appearing, urging us to focus on “doing” Advent before we rush on to Christmas. – and to love those who don’t! But none of us would deny that we’re ready for some light in the darkness now more than ever.

The Narrative Lectionary takes us into the lion’s den with Daniel who refused to compromise faith despite a culture gripped by fear all around him. Discussion from earlier in the week can be found here.

And the RCL exhorts us to wake up and hold out light by which to walk – there are useful comments here.

Is Advent bringing you cause to hope this year? Or do you feel the need to explore themes other than the traditional hope, peace, joy and love?

Please share where your preaching is taking you this week, ask for ideas for children’s time or pastoral prayers and share leftovers as we get ready to preach this first Sunday in Advent.

 

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Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project in Scotland.  A Board Member of RevGalBlogPals, instigator of Spill the Beans and contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, Liz blogs at journalling

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34 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Advent Light

  1. a lovely time this afternoon leading Faith Space – a short time of quiet worship and reflection, with options of drawing, clay work, making an angel or colouring, or just sitting.
    Tomorrow is a Parish service, so only one service instead of two. It is being followed by a parish meeting to look at a new structure for Church Council.
    we are hearing Isaiah and Matthew tomorrow. I am thinking about Hope. this week is White Ribbon Day, a day to speak out about domestic violence, so i will include that. The UCA justice section has an advocacy project called Give Hope, aimed at getting children out of immigration detention – currently the Australian Government puts any people who arrive by boat seeking refugee status in detention centres.
    i am reading a book called ‘The Duck and the Darklings’ which i think fits with Isaiah.
    almost time to cook dinner – i will be back.

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  2. Good morning Liz and all!
    I wrote most of the sermon yesterday during my flight back from Beirut.
    It’s definitely hopeful
    And it weaves together many threads.
    Beirut, refugees, Daniel, grace, hope, children and advent
    I will take another look at it in a while, but don’t think I’m going to add too much to it.

    Lots of catching up to do after a week of travel and meeting with people who live and work with refugees. And lots of reflecting too.
    And, must go and get the church sorted for tomorrow. Though I’m sure much has been done already in my absence!

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  3. Breakfast time here- still harvesting raspberries in spite of the frost – so fresh fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, with hot tea. I’m providing music for this week’s service, so I’m taking the opportunity to look ahead to next week’s texts in the NL- I’ll be preaching then.

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  4. Calling it done for the night, some bits cut and pasted from previous years, one of the advantages of moving, but i doubt many people remember what was said 3 years ago. i am not sure many remember what was said last week.
    Ready for Hope

    blessings as you finalise your preparations.

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  5. My colleague has several major family celebrations over Thanksgiving week, and thus has in the last several years given herself permission to take that week and Advent 1 as vacation. I wholly support this, AND this year we are starting a splashy series and I’m on deck (at my request: Please let me preach Advent 1!!!???!!!). We’re working with material from Marcia McFee at the Worship Design studio and doing The Redemption of Scrooge. I was up late making gold chains to represent Marley’s chains and what we wish we could let go of this year (as were other worship committee members, I’m sure). I will head to the church in a few minutes where I am opening up for the committee who will be preparing the sanctuary for Advent, and I think I will be holing up in my office writing as this afternoon we are driving 90 minutes to the beach to see friends visiting from Canada. I have the first stave, Isaiah and the Magnificat (God’s economy) paired with Jacob Marley and Bah, Humbug! I’ve done my prep, so it just needs to get written, but it still needs to get written.

    Meanwhile I did something to my back moving furniture on Thursday, so I am achy. Our music director’s mentally ill brother died on Thanksgiving, and Friday is the first anniversary of the December 2 shooting in our city. So. All that is part of the background for the day tomorrow, and I will need to at least address it in the prayers, but maybe also the sermon.

    Deep breath. Veni sancte spiritus. God bless us, everyone!

    –Wendy

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    1. Sermon is written. I am inviting them to enter the story through he characters, including the hopeful visions of Isaiah and Mary. It’s an English Professor kind of sermon, but I think (hope) it is more sermon than lecture (whatever that means). Now my son is finishing catching up on some math homework and the spouse is patiently helping him) and then we head for a rainy evening at the beach. Will look over sermon and do prayers and other bits and bobs in the a.m.
      The sanctuary is lovely, and I think we have all the pieces in place.

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  6. Mine is a different kind of Advent sermon. I am preaching two Sundays a month with the only African-American Presbyterian congregation in my city — and I am a white woman of privilege from a wealthy neighborhood two miles from the church. The church is located in an inner-city neighborhood that apparently is in the middle of a gang war. There have been at least three incidents (at least one fatality) in the last couple of weeks. The most recent one was on Friday afternoon (yes, in the daytime) where four people were shot in a hail of gunfire. One of the shootings took place on a street recently renamed for a local African-American pastor (who died around three years ago) of a church a few blocks from this one. He was a prominent figure in the “stop the violence” movement in the city. I plan to weave the pastor’s story (he would have been well-known to this congregation) around the Isaiah text about turning swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and the promise that the coming of the Messiah would usher in a reign of peace. Lord knows this neighborhood (and this city) need that peace desperately.

    Alas, this Sunday the local NFL team is playing at home (about a mile from the church), and it is also the “low” Sunday after Thanksgiving. I doubt more than 15 people will be there to hear my sermon. It is a very good Sunday when there are 25 in worship. Let those who have ears to hear…

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  7. Gonna try something a little different this week. I’m working with Matthew, so I’ll introduce the scripture and give some background, and then read a story called “The Church Built With Snow” by Andre Trocme. The story was first told in Occupied France, and it’s kind of a parable version of the Matthew text with all kinds of connections to how we should (and should not) wait for Christ’s return in a really scary political atmosphere. Then I’ll invite people to discuss some questions with their pew-mates, and share if they want.

    We just got back from a week with far-away family, and I feel a bit slacker-ish for not writing a whole sermon. But I needed the time to just be present with family, and actually I’ve been wanting to incorporate dialogue into a sermon for a while anyway. I think people will appreciate doing something a bit new.

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    1. Laura, call it serendipitous that your well earned family time coincided with the opportunity to introduce dialogue – I’m sure lots of people will love a different style. Would love to hear how it goes – maybe on the Sunday thread on the FB group? Blessings

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  8. Well, I have been totally procrastinating. As usual. My title is “Awake” and Mary Luti wrote a perfect devotional on what that means in the United Church of Christ Still Speaking devotionals. I also have some thoughts from Brazilian ecofeminist theologian on what waiting about. Plus, oh, yes, the texts….
    What does it mean to be awake, stirred up, and yet waiting? Such a tension, especially in these times, I think.

    I think I will take a nap, hopefully have a dream….

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  9. I am sooooo glad the last two months are almost over. Surgery, election, death. Back home after a two-day family trip a few hours south for my dad’s memorial luncheon, which created much advance angst for my non-blended blended family, but was actually lovely. It is almost never that I am writing a sermon this late, so I am about to hole up and produce a short reflection to launch the season. Last year we had just closed our church and I was still finding the holidays incredibly painful after my son’s death seven years previous, so I simply skipped the entire liturgical season from late November – mid-January. This year we have new complications with my other son’s engagement to a Muslim woman who might be here over Christimas, so I am pondering the whole idea of Advent anew.

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  10. I know y’all have heard me anticipate for weeks the vote scheduled for last Sunday at the church where I am interim. They did vote to close, which in this case will mean seeking a Designated Pastor to work with them full-time for about a year, to offer pastoral care, assist in seeking new church homes, and offer aid and guidance in the process of closing (what to do with the building, its fixtures, and remaining financial resources, for instance).

    Last week I was preaching at kathrynzj’s church, so this will be my first time among them since the vote. I know the meeting was emotional; the outcome felt cataclysmic to some, inevitable to others. I think they made the right decision, but unfortunately the vote was very, very close, and some people in the room might have voted differently an hour earlier. Others asked whether they should even bother coming back this Sunday; would they find the doors locked? This despite a ballot vote (the parameters were in print) and multiple congregational conversations over the previous month laying out the options.

    This feels like, and is, a hard one. I’ve got Jesus and his apocalyptic warnings in Matthew and the exhortation in Romans to wake from sleep. The timing of the first Sunday in Advent, a new church year, feels both appropriate and sad. Their newness will all be the kind we don’t much like, even when it’s good and right and faithful.

    Listening to Suzanne Stabile’s podcast post-election, I heard her invoke Richard Rohr, saying (paraphrasing here, as she was) that change is something new we take on, while transformation is something falling away forever, usually beyond our control. Some of what they are doing is change – a choice to do something new – but who knows if it will lead to transformation of spirit?

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    1. Martha, I know you will help them navigate this transition as wisely and as faithfully as you have led them this far.
      I’m reflecting on that notion of change and transition – for me, change is the thing that’s usually outwith our control and the hard work is in making the transition – and leading others in that journey. I need to reflect some more on that.

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  11. I spent the past two days not doing anything even remotely church related. and then today i went and got my hair cut–and blue & purple streaks added to match my advent stole!–and saw the Fantastic Beasts movie. Now it’s 5:20pm and I have to start working on Daniel and Advent…the liturgy and music this week is heavy on courage and trust, but I confess I have no idea what to do with lions and advent 1. Hopefully something comes to me soon!

    I have more mashed potatoes than I can eat (a first!), so help yourselves. 🙂

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  12. For some reason (?!) this year, the Advent light reminded me of warning beacons. 1588 is one of the few dates I remember from history class. The Spanish Armada was coming, and beacons were lit hilltop to hilltop signaling across southern England to warn and to rally the troops. Because I now live in Ohio, and the need to leave a word of comfort is also strong with me, I’ll also be talking about the light in the Rankin house across the Ohio River, signaling escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. Warning, call to arms, solidarity. Not how I usually approach Advent light, but these are unusual times.

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  13. Somehow I am ready for tomorrow. Sermon done — a reminder that we have a month, per Diana Butler Bass in the Washington Post today — the night and the light take time. Stewardship letter revised. (Don’t ask.) Emails sent to move appointments scheduled for Monday.

    And everything on my ipad! I forgot to take it to the Thanksgiving service Wednesday night, and had no access to a printer, so I photographed the sermon onto my iPhone from my laptop. I missed a page, which I discovered in the middle of preaching, but I don’t think anyone knew that I made up the middle on the spot.

    I so absolutely do not have an ounce of energy for Advent.

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  14. Sermon done…come what may.
    My hope during Advent is to focus on the spirituality of the texts and how that can help us move in/though/around/into God coming again and again and again into the world.

    Shifting the language in the worship service during Advent…and I hope to continue that after Advent. I think they are little changes…but who knows.

    Opening prayer and prayers of the people are done.

    There are years when I think the best preparation we can do it to halt all the extra activities, the decorations, the parties, the chaos…and just come and sit…in lots of silence with a few words from Richard Rohr, Tilden Edwards, DDB, BBT, Cynthia Bourgeault, Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, Jan Richarson to guide our paths.

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  15. Well, I have a sermon. I think it’s almost a good one, even.
    But I also got a call about a death of a really lovely lady, just as I was finishing the last paragraph…and I’m not sure that the sermon I have is necessarily good news to people who will get news of a friend’s death a few minutes before.
    So I’m going to bed, praying for comfort for the grieving, and inspiration for what to do about it.

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