Advent Blog

Advent Reflections

November 17, 2016

Reflections on Social Justice for the Season of Advent Year A ResourceThe Episcopal Networks Collaborative, consisting of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, the Union of Black Episcopalians, and the Episcopal Ecological Network, has published a new  resource for preachers entitled Reflections on Social Justice for the Season of Advent. The Rev. Richard Burnett of Trinity Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio writes in the introduction:

We began this project in response to a comment voiced by our ecumenical friend Dr. Walter Brueggemann, emeritus professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, and now a communicant in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Referring to his perceived limits of lectionaries, Dr. Brueggemann says that too often the lectionary invites a failure of social-witness nerve in the preacher because it either 1) passes by texts with pronounced justice themes (e.g. edits in Psalm readings or neglected parts of Hebrew Scripture or early church Epistles) or 2) organizes the readings in a way that invites interpretations that concentrate on personal salvation and moralism to the neglect of social inequity and social transformations.

 

Quite a stunning claim from one of the great preachers of our day! Therefore we step forward with confidence to read the Revised Common Lectionary with new attention thanks to our Brother Walter, who invites this effort first in humble service.

You can download the document below.

The Episcopal Networks Collaborative, consisting of the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, the Union of Black Episcopalians, and the Episcopal Ecological Network, has published a new  resource for preachers entitled Reflections on Social...
October 31, 2016

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Advent Devotions for the upcoming liturgical season.

Titled “Liberated by God’s Grace” and available here. The weekly devotions were prepared by

  • The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry. Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
  • The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

“As churches shaped by the 16th century reformations—the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—we also participate in this ministry of reconciliation,” they noted in a joint letter. “Over fifteen years ago, our churches’ respective full communion agreements inaugurated new relationships in which we fully recognized each other “as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered” (Called to Common Mission), an achievement that “marks but one step toward the eventual visible unity of the whole Church catholic” (Waterloo Declaration). We are committed to working together toward reconciliation—of the church, and of the deepest social ills that plague our world. It is our hope, together with you, to be signs of anticipation—of the “already, but not yet” of God’s realm of reconciliation, justice, and peace.”

The Advent Devotions can be downloaded for websites, bulletin inserts, church programs, and used as discussion points.

Presiding Bishop Curry’s contribution is Advent 3, Matthew 11:2-11: Salvation – Not for Sale.

For more information contact the Rev. Margaret Rose.

 

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Advent Devotions for the...
October 31, 2016

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Advent Devotions for the upcoming liturgical season.

Titled "Liberated by God’s Grace," the weekly devotions were prepared by

  • The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry. Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
  • The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

"As churches shaped by the 16th century reformations—the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—we also participate in this ministry of reconciliation," they noted in a joint letter. "Over fifteen years ago, our churches' respective full communion agreements inaugurated new relationships in which we fully recognized each other 'as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered' (Called to Common Mission), an achievement that 'marks but one step toward the eventual visible unity of the whole Church catholic' (Waterloo Declaration). We are committed to working together toward reconciliation—of the church, and of the deepest social ills that plague our world. It is our hope, together with you, to be signs of anticipation—of the 'already, but not yet' of God’s realm of reconciliation, justice, and peace."

Download the Advent Devotions below for use on websites, bulletin inserts, church programs, and used as discussion points.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in preparing Advent Devotions for the upcoming liturgical season. Titled "...
December 25, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

Merry Christmas! May a hurting world find peace and healing on this holy day.

The word peace, or versions of the word, is used in all but one New Testament book. It seems the angels had it right when they declared, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" They were declaring God's desire for right, harmonious relationships between all people and nations. Peace also describes friendliness, freedom from attack, order, and a sense of rest and contentment. This kind of peace is often hard to find, for individuals and for governments, but the message of Christmas reminds us that Jesus came into the world as the Prince of Peace.

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". ~ John 14:27

 

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Merry Christmas! May a hurting world find peace and healing on this holy day. The word peace, or versions of the word, is used in all but one New Testament book. It seems the angels had it right when they declared, "Glory to God in the highest, and...
December 24, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Gospels. They speak of the early years of the Holy Family, including the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the flight into Egypt, and the finding of Jesus in the temple. While the exact details of the day-to-day life of the Holy Family may be unknown, the stories we do have teach lessons of courage, devotion, and love.

And now we give you thanks because in his earthly childhood
you entrusted him to the care of a human family.
In Mary and Joseph you give us an example of love and devotion
to him and also a pattern of family life.

The Holy Family is the name given to the family unit of Jesus: Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his foster-father Joseph. We know very little about the life of the Holy Family through the Gospels. They speak of the early years of the Holy...
December 23, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

The final of The Great "O" Antiphons reminds us that God is with us. 

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, one of our most popular Advent hymns, is a summation of the O Antiphons. During the mid-19th century, Anglican priest and hymn writer John Mason Neale studied and translated Greek and Latin hymns. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel appeared in his collection Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851), headed by his notation: “This Advent hymn is little more than a versification of some of the Christmas antiphons commonly called the O’s.” Neale’s translation of the hymn made it into the Church of England’s official hymnal in 1861 and spread from there throughout Protestantism.

Neale noted the hymn’s tune as from “French sources,” but no one knew what those sources were. The melody’s origin was eventually traced to a 15th-century processional funeral hymn for French Franciscan nuns, found in a manuscript in the National Library of Paris. Neale’s matching of tune and text seems inspired today; it is difficult to imagine the words set to any other music—especially when the verses are sung in a contemplative unison and the “Rejoice!” bursts forth in sudden, amazing harmony.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Words: Latin, twelfth century; trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1851

The final of The Great "O" Antiphons reminds us that God is with us.  O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, one of our most popular Advent hymns...
December 22, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

Jesus as king and cornerstone is the message of the sixth of The Great "O" Antiphons, proclaiming the building of a new Christ-centered kingdom.

O King of the nations, and their Desire, you are the cornerstone who makes us both one: Come and save the creature whom you fashioned from clay.

While declaring that Christ is king and the foundation of our lives, the verse also reminds us that we are formed from clay and in need of salvation. Throughout Advent, we anticipate the Reign of God with patience and joy.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem; and the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” ~ Zechariah 9:9-10

In celebration of O King of Nations, here’s a recipe for Divinity candy, courtesy of Maggy Keet, Manager of Donor Relations and Special Events in the Development Office:

Divinity Candy
Makes about 36 pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, plus 18 pecan halves, halved to make 36 pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In two small baking pans, roast chopped pecans and pecan halves until fragrant, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Heat sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water over low heat in a large heavy saucepan or small Dutch oven until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and simmer until syrup reaches around 260 degrees or a small amount of the syrup dropped into a cup of cold water forms a hard ball.

Meanwhile, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Continuing to beat the egg whites, slowly add the syrup and then the vanilla beating until candy mixture starts to cool and stiffen. Fold in chopped pecans and working quickly use a teaspoon to portion candy onto greased parchment, topping each piece with a half pecan. Let candy stand until set. Serve or transfer to a tin. Can be stored for a couple of weeks.

Jesus as king and cornerstone is the message of the sixth of The Great "O" Antiphons, proclaiming the building of a new Christ-centered kingdom. O King of the nations, and their Desire, you are the cornerstone who makes us both one: Come and save...
December 21, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

On this first day of winter, the fifth of The Great "O" Antiphons invites reflection on the promise of Jesus bringing light to a dark world.

O Dayspring, Brightness of the Light Eternal, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

The word “dayspring” can be interpreted as dawn, daybreak, or sunrise. The Northern Hemisphere is at its darkest during the season of Advent. Daylight hours are short, and darkness can descend by mid-afternoon, depending on location. As Advent people we look for a new light, a new sunrise of spirit and hope in the coming birth of Jesus.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined.” ~ Isaiah 9:2

On this first day of winter, the fifth of The Great "O" Antiphons invites reflection on the promise of Jesus bringing light to a dark world. O Dayspring, Brightness of the Light Eternal, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in...
December 20, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

The fourth of the Great "O" Antiphons heralds the coming of Christ as the great liberator. Through his ancestor King David, Jesus holds the power to overcome darkness and death and set captives free.

O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no one can shut, you shut and no one can open: Come and bring the captives out of the prison house, those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

Keys represent power and trust. Possessing the key that unlocks or locks something signifies the authority to give or take away, to open or to hide, to set free or to imprison. The season of Advent offers the opportunity to think about how Jesus used the Key of David to bring light and freedom to a dark, captive world.

“I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house.” ~ Isaiah 22:22-23

The fourth of the Great "O" Antiphons heralds the coming of Christ as the great liberator. Through his ancestor King David, Jesus holds the power to overcome darkness and death and set captives free. O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of...
December 19, 2015
Tagged in: Advent

The third of The Great "O" Antiphons highlights Jesus’ lineage from Jesse, David’s father. The antiphons are seven brief prayers that are traditionally chanted or sung on successive evenings starting on December 17.

O Root of Jesse, you stand as an ensign to the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, and nations bow in worship: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

“A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 11:1-2

A Jesse Tree, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, represents the family tree of Jesus. Beginning on the first day of Advent, a Bible story is read relating to God’s people and Jesus’ family, starting with Creation and ending with the Birth of Christ. An ornament is placed on a Jesse Tree after each day’s story.

Maggy Keet, Manager of Donor Relations and Special Events in the Development Office, shares her remembrances and reflection on her family's Jesse Tree tradition:

Much to my disappointment, the holidays of my childhood started not with an oversized, light-draped Douglas fir in the living room, but with a lean, bare branch beside our kitchen table. The day after Thanksgiving, while friends were out joyfully selecting O Tannenbaum, my Dad was traipsing into the late autumn woods in search of the barren branch that would become our Jesse Tree. This old Advent tradition, based on the messianic prophecy of Isaiah, “A shoot shall come forth from the stump of Jesse,” was a sign of hope in small beginnings.

Throughout December, our family had a simple after-dinner ritual. We would light the candles in the Advent wreath and my sister and I would color the minimalist line drawing ornaments of biblical scenes—John the Baptist decked out in camel hair, Elizabeth and Mary sharing pregnancy stories—while Mom or Dad read the scripture passage for the day. We’d recite a short, page-long litany followed by a few verses of “O come, O come Emmanuel” before cutting out our ornaments and hanging them on the tree.

If Advent is about readying ourselves to receive something, we need to be leave space for it to enter. The quiet pause each evening was good for a family with demanding jobs, homework, school projects, piano lessons, youth group, holiday parties, and pageants. There was plenty to keep us busy, but little to slow us down. We had every excuse to scurry off as soon as our plates were clean, but the ritual held us together and kept our evenings calm, even if only for thirty minutes.

Postponing the Christmas commotion wasn’t easy, but the days of waiting weren’t empty. The naked Jesse Tree filled Advent with meaning and purpose: each night a new ornament to color, a new passage to read, which often sparked questions (“What’s a virgin?”) and conversations (“How did two of every animal in the world fit on Noah’s Ark?”). The Bible stories, the songs, the litany all taught us—even as young children—that the birth of Christ was not a sentimental nursery story, but a powerful sign of God’s presence in the midst of suffering and of God’s fierce insistence on universal love, justice and mercy. Each Sunday, as we lit another candle, the room got a little brighter.

Though we didn’t get a tree until days before Christmas, my parents weren’t completely austere. We ended the evening ritual by opening our Advent calendar, not the ‘cardboard with stale chocolate’ variety, but a large quilted tree with twenty-five pockets thoughtfully filled with all sorts of confections—small, sweet breadcrumbs leading us to the big day. These treats, along with our Jesse Tree, taught us that good things come from the thrill of hope—and expectation.

It took a few years for my sister and me to understand why we couldn’t “just deck the halls already!” But once we got it, we looked forward to Advent more than Christmas. We continued that tradition long after we had outgrown it. Each year Dad would copy the ornaments and litany, each year’s photocopy of a photocopy more faded than the last. But we held on to that fading ritual even after we weren’t little girls any more because the Jesse Tree had taught us that there was more joy from the branch than there was from the tree.

The third of The Great "O" Antiphons highlights Jesus’ lineage from Jesse, David’s father. The antiphons are seven brief prayers that are traditionally chanted or sung on successive evenings starting on December 17. O Root of Jesse, you stand as an...