Are you ready? It seems that, no matter how well I plan, something always takes me by surprise when the old year gives way to Advent.  It might be in the liturgy, or the decorations, or the way the first Sunday in Advent can’t seem to decide if it belongs in November or December. But here we are, ready or not. It’s Advent!

What is taking you by surprise this year? How do your traditions fit with the scriptures for this first Sunday in Advent? Are you beating your weapons into farming tools with Isaiah, or looking to Christ’s second coming with Matthew? Thoughts on the Revised Common Lectionary passages may give you some inspiration. If you follow the Narrative Lectionary, the prophet Jeremiah has something to say about righteousness and God’s covenant with David.

Let us know how you’re coming with worship elements, sermon ideas, and general Advent planning. If you have a children’s message ready, we’d love to know about it. Let’s encourage each other as we head into this season together – and may all your surprises be pleasant ones!


Rev. Jo Anne Taylor is an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor serving First United Methodist Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. Sermons and recipes on her blog reflect her firm belief that God sings, and since we are all made in God’s image, we should be singing, too.


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.

20 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Ready or Not, It’s Advent!

  1. first Sunday back after 9 Sundays without preaching. working with Jeremiah 33, a short sermon becasue i am including a lovely story book [A child’s garden: a book of hope] , it is also Advent 1, communion Sunday and our denomination has asked all churches to pray for bush-fire situation, which has been going for weeks along the east coast of Australia.
    During the notices, I am including a few photos of me working at our recently purchased house during my 8 weeks long service and annual leave – knocking down walls etc.
    I am finding out how grumpy some people have become, or always were and i didn’t notice so much. At Church Council yesterday i started noting down Bible passages to preach on at some time in response to various situations i was told about. Paul’s image of us being a body, the golden rule, Matthew’s conflict resolution of speaking to the person first.

    anyway, one sermon at a time 🙂 this week’s is Hope Jeremiah Style

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  2. I wanted to write “ahead” so I could enjoy the American Thanksgiving holiday and have my Friday sabbath as well. I just reread what I wrote and it’s a go with a few tweaks here and there. Set a bit of a backdrop on both Advent and Isaiah. I’ve preached Isaiah twice in November but with national average church attendance about 1-2 times a month…some have not heard about Isaiah.

    Used the image that the plowshare was totally changed…better yet…transformed and how that is so much more than change. What power and force it took to do that…and it takes just as much work to transform ourselves.

    Related to that, I used the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall to talk about how peace can come in non-violent ways. An artistic installation by Poetic Kinetics is amazing. It was built with the ideas of “visions in motion” which seem to fit with Isaiah’s vision.

    http://www.poetickinetics.com/visions-in-motion/

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    1. What a powerful image the Berlin Wall brings – at least to those of us old enough to remember it! So glad your earlier work paid off for you, and now you can grab a bit of sabbath going into Advent.

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  3. Hello all. Feel the need to reintroduce myself since it’s been such a long time. I am preparing to preach from the Women’s Lectionary tomorrow. Excited but also really want to launch it well. Prayers appreciated. For those interested here are the texts: Year A, Advent 1: Genesis 1:1-5; Psalm 8; Romans 8:18-25; Matthew 24:32-44

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  4. Happy Advent!

    I am preaching the gospel text, focused on how Jesus is always coming, and our task is to be engaged and attentive now, to the homeless and refugee and poor (my sermon illustrations). As I was trying to wrestle with the text, this year’s Working Preacher was a huge help in an alternative reading to Left Behind, etc.

    Ironically, I am in Cleveland and not at all where I think I need to be, with my grandchildren’s family in crisis in London where my husband has just arrived, or with my husband’s family in western NY, where his mother took very ill while he was en route to far away. And a key staff member at church fell yesterday and broke things, so Advent quickly became more intense, in case it wasn’t already. I’m not sure whether this is all Jesus coming, but I’m feeling a lot like more running away than remaining focused and attentive. Oh well, here I am.

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    1. I also struggle with that whole ‘Left Behind’ thinking in my congregation. Funny how we cling to an idea we were spoon fed as children in the faith, and can’t seem to let go of it even when maturity points us to a different understanding. May you preach with confidence, even as your family’s urgent needs remain on your mind and heart.

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  5. I haven’t preached for a couple of months either, so I’m somewhere between rested and rusty! I’m looking at the Advent-inspired question of “What are we waiting for?” In early October, my first grandchild was born via scheduled c-section; even thinking we knew the hour and the day (which turned out delayed), it was a long wait before and during, and I was totally focused on her birth. When she arrived, I suddenly and unexpectedly had a long arc view into the future, a vision of hope and love continuing through the generations. During the Advent season, I think we easily become totally focused on the baby’s arrival, on the beginning moment; the lessons remind me to take the long view of what we’re waiting for, to hold onto hope and love and to know that when all around us may seem to be falling apart, those will endure. We’re called to be communities of justice and peace, the manifestations of hope and love, especially for those who individually are in seasons where these qualities/gifts seem distant or entirely absent. Trying to think clearly in the midst of a nasty cold; the biggest challenge actually seems to be that I’m drinking so many fluids that even when I get on a roll writing, I keep having to jump up to use the bathroom 😀

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  6. Taking the long view … seems our current culture could use a sermon on that. We aren’t very good at delaying gratification, mostly because we don’t have to very often, I think. Hope your cold is better in time for you to preach tomorrow!

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  7. Checking in here late Saturday afternoon in my time zone. We’ve returned home this afternoon from several days with family for Thanksgiving. I have not returned home, however, with a sermon written.

    We’re doing an Advent sermon series on “hidden figures” in the Christmas story. First up is John the Baptist, the same passage that appears in next week’s RCL. If I come up with anything brilliant, I’ll be sure to share! I need to introduce the series and leave time for Advent wreath lighting and communion, so it doesn’t need to be super long.

    It’s but a glimmer in the back of my mind, but I think I’m going to focus on what John did (prepare the way) rather than what he said (repent, you brood of vipers). I’m not so sure those are easily separated, but that’s what I’m thinking right now.

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    1. Last time I preached this text I did try to focus on repentance, and I’m not sure how effective that was. But here’s a quote from that sermon that I had to go look up to share with you, because I think you hit the nail on the head: “In her book, Unbinding the Gospel, Martha Grace Reese notes research that shows most people who have come to know Christ in the past ten years don’t mention a fear of Hell or judgment as the reason they came to faith. Instead of fear, they describe a desire to know God, to be part of a community where God’s love has touched them. Apparently, scaring people away from Hell is about the least effective way to introduce them to Christ.” For what it’s worth! Glad you could enjoy time with family, and I’m sure the message you bring will reveal John to your congregation.

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  8. After a couple hours’ panicked house-cleaning, we are now ready-ish for the youth group’s progressive dinner to begin at our house tomorrow. (Youth group from my clergy spouse’s church). It turns out that “Dinner” begins at 1:00, rather than the 5:00ish time frame we were expecting.

    The sermon…got set aside during the panic. So I’m back here now.

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    1. Okay then! Back to your idea of what John did to prepare the way…? It seems so counter-intuitive that he headed out to the wilderness. Yet, people flocked to him there. Is this still the direction you are heading?

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  9. Friends, besides Hanging of the Green, followed by a potluck (for which I just realized I have nothing to bring), and a small gathering at my house in the evening to light the candles on our Christmas tree, I also need to make a hospital visit tomorrow to someone who just was admitted to hospice. I’m heading to bed early, but my prayer for each of you is that Holy Spirit will give you all the words you need to say, and keep you from saying anything you don’t need to say. Blessings on your Advent! Happy New (liturgical) Year!

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    1. Wendy, you’re ahead of me. I have a billion ideas running around and can’t settle on one. I’m preaching on the Gospel and trying to decide if I want to take the David Lose method and skip the apocalypse part (or do it as an intro to scripture) by focusing on the unexpectedness or to dive right into the “left behind” apocalypse part.

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  10. Hope you found the inspiration you needed. And Wendy, May the middle have come together for you by now. This is such a hard text to preach on the first Sunday of December! If you are still looking for a ‘hook’ you might try “what are we repenting toward?” (instead of repenting from). Blessings on your Advent preaching!

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