Advent 2016: “Awed & Odd”
We Christians believe in “folly” – that there is peace, love, joy and hope in the midst of both the good and the difficult times. We believe that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This makes us “odd” according to those who proclaim the victory of decline and death all around. It is especially in this season of expectant hope that we can instead proclaim the awe-inspiring presence of God’s reign that continually makes all things new. This is a season of odd “juxtapositions” – swords into plowshares, wolves and lambs resting peacefully together, and those without a voice singing for joy!
First Sunday of Advent – November 27
“Peace in the Midst of Conflict”
Isaiah 2:1-5 and Psalm 122
To keep awake is to open our eyes in awe at the works of the Holy in our midst and to the promises of God to continually make all things new. We introduce the theme of “Awed & Odd” for this season of anticipation and expectation. This first Sunday of Advent we focus on the practices of peace to which we are called, making us “odd” in the eyes of a world that lets fear drive our actions toward one another.
Second Sunday of Advent – December 4
“Love in the Midst of Hate”
Isaiah 11:1-10 and Matthew 3:1-12
The Hebrew word translated in the First Testament as “fear” is probably closer to our word “awe”. Those who are open to the awe of God will be delighted at the love they witness blooming where once was fear and hatred. Isaiah’s prophecy of unlikely combinations (wolves and lambs, calves and lions, cows and bears) can point us toward the awesome power of God to create more love and understanding in the world.
Third Sunday of Advent – December 11
“Joy in the Midst of Despair”
Isaiah 35:1-10 and Luke 1:46b-55
We wonder what one person, or one church, can do, and we despair at the injustices of the world. When helplessness makes us feel weak in the hands or feeble in the knees, we are reminded of the power of the “lowly servants” as Mary’s prophetic voice rings out in the “Magnificat” (the song of one awe-struck young woman!). Things in the reign of God are topsy-turvy. As the Body of Christ, we must be “born again” this Advent into the awe of God that leads to the joy of liberating service.
Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 18
“Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness”
Sacred Drama: “Voices of Advent”
Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25
Nothing about this pregnancy was “usual.” Add to that signs and wonders and angel visits and the birth of Jesus can be called “odd” at best. But the message is clear – things can be born when you least expect it. So it is with hope. Be on the look-out for the ways that hope refuses to die. If you can’t find light in the usual places, look for it elsewhere. Do not fear. Move forward even if you can’t see the light yet. The light comes into the world and will not be overcome. God is with us!
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