What then did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in soft robes?
Someone reclining in comfort?
Someone with an unending smile?

What then did you expect to see
when you went looking for joy?

This coming Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings combine to provide a picture of joy that — while familiar in the Advent season — is wildly unfamiliar to everyday life.

What does joy look like?

Joy looks like
a desert in bloom.
(Isaiah 35:1)

Joy looks like the tongue
of the speechless singing.
(Isaiah 35:6)

Joy looks like people
traveling together
without getting lost.
(Isaiah 35:8)

Joy looks like justice.
(Psalm 146:7)

Joy looks like freedom.
(Psalm 146:7)

Joy looks like ruin
to the wicked.
(Psalm 146:9)

Joy looks like
power deflated.
(Luke 1:52)

Joy looks like
a promise
still waiting.
(James 5:7)

Joy looks like
(Matthew 11:10)

advent maryWhat does joy look like — for you, for your community? What does it look like for Mary, if you’re preaching on the Magnificat (Luke 1)? What does it look like for ancient Israel in a season of political crisis, if you’re preaching on Isaiah 35?

What sermonic joy is flowing from your fingers in preparation for this coming Sunday’s Advent worship? What joy is singing in your spirit or straining for new imagination? Join your joy (and your brainstorms and your worship plans) with others in the comments below as we prepare for this coming Advent Sunday.


Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, soccer mom, blogger, and author. Her book Sacred Pause plays with words to refresh our relationship with The Word.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

5 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Joy

  1. the part that has caught my eye is : what did you come out to see?
    i am wondering what are we looking for at Christmas?
    what do we look for in Jesus? Hope, justice, comfort, ???

    also thinking about the difference between joy and happiness.

    As much as i love the Magnificat i am leaving it out this week, though i may include it next week 🙂


  2. I am using James as my main text this week. Using a bit of the magnificat in the script for the advent candle lighters. I honestly find James annoying, but I acknowledge that sometimes I am annoyed by truths I need to hear. “Be patient,” James says. But we don’t want to be patient. We want our joy NOW! i’m trusting that all of this will boil down into a sermon and soon. Too many other things vying for my attention this week – community food drive culminates on my usual sermon-writing day, and there is a budget meeting on my back-up sermon writing day. Sometimes the best inspiration comes as I’m driving or doing something else. May it be so this week!


  3. If I run out of time this week, I can use the sermon I preached three years ago – equal parts Matthew and Luke (because I really love the Magnificat) and you can read it here: https://pastorsings.com/2013/12/15/magnify-sermon-on-matthew-112-11-and-luke-147-55/
    But I am hoping to focus more on the “Seeing” aspect this time around. Not only “What did you come out to see?” but “What does Christ invite me to see?” The texts for this Sunday also offer an invitation into our Blue Christmas worship that will happen the following week. Sometimes we have to look a little deeper to see the joy.


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