Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Biblical texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary.
My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and faith-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation.
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Below you will find links for the various Lectionary readings for Advent and Christmas, but I have stopped using the Lectionary during Advent (and Lent as well). Why?
It seems to me that in this day and age you can never tell the story of the first Christmas (or Easter) early enough or often enough.
It is far better to begin with the story we are trying to tell - Christmas - and then provide the historical context along the way.
Starting with the historical / theological / history of salvation has the unintentional effect of making the story we are wanting to tell seem like nothing more than a foretold, logical conclusion - a prepared script for actors on a stage - and not the flesh and blood seizing - or passing up - actual in-the-moment opportunities for God's will to be on earth as it is in heaven. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the Shepherds, and the Magi become cardboard cutouts instead of real people who made real - and very difficult - choices.
In my humble opinion, the Lectionary guts the power of the Christmas story because it fails to lift up the crucial necessity of the particular.
It sets the Christmas story within an historical arc of centuries of time, and robs the particularity of Mary's faith filled response, "let it be with me according to your word." (Luke 1:38, NRSV)
In that moment, Mary is NOT "fulfilling what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet." (Matthew 1:22) Nor is she the beneficiary of 2,000 years of hindsight and reflection. She is an uneducated, poor, young girl. She may not even have heard of the passages we are reading from the prophets. And what she agrees to do would cost her - and her family's - social reputation forever. They would become forever the subject of malicious gossip - and forever always suspected and sidelined by their neighbours.
And so I have stopped using the Lectionary.
I tell the Christmas story early and often. And I start singing Christmas carols in church as soon as the malls start playing them to accompany the Christmas sale announcements.
I vary my choices somewhat from year to year, but roughly here are the lessons I use, along with a link to an Adobe PDF document for Advent Candle Lighting based on that day's text. (The document is formated to be a half-page insert 5.5 by 8.5 inches.):
And yes, we do re-read these passages on Christmas Eve in their Lectionary appointed hour.
And of course, reading the prophets along side the above - or even as a focus for one Sunday - also enriches, deepens, and speaks to the longing-yet-to-be-fully-fulfilled which abides in our hearts as it did in Mary.
End of rant. And here are the Lectionary Gospel readings.
Year A - Seasons of Advent & Christmas - 2019
December 8, 2019
"This text continues the Advent theme of preparing for the arrival of Jesus. And uses the preaching of John the Baptist to press home that preparation requires internal cleansing and not just straightening up around the house."
Sermon: "The Times Are A-changing."
December 15, 2019
"Jesus honourably does NOT answer the question directly. Instead, he tells the followers of John to go back and report what they themselves have seen and heard. In other words, make up your own mind; you decide who I am."
Sermon: "Fear, Comfort, Joy."
Note: Any of the following lessons may be used on Christmas Eve / Day.
Christmas Eve, December 24, or Christmas Day, December 25
Proper I: Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) Sermon: "A Night Of Hosting."
Proper II: Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 Sermon: "A Cry Of Birth."
Proper III: John 1:1-14 Sermon "Light Breaks In."
First Sunday After Christmas Day
December 29, 2019
"Matthew wants us to trust that ... God can and does protect, guide, warn, and keep alive from generation to generation the alternative "Jesus" vision of what is really real: God is love and love is the only response that will ultimately end violence."
Sermon: "Christmas Interrupted."
May be replaced by the readings for Epiphany. See note below.
New Year's Day - January 1
"What I love about this parable is that BOTH those judged to be honourable AND those judged to be dishonourable have exactly the same response: Lord, when was it we saw you hungry ...?."
Sermon: "On Not Judging."
Second Sunday After Christmas Day
January 5, 2020
John 1:(1-9), 10-18.
"Just as in Genesis the Word was God's original self-revelation as Creator of all; in the Gospel of John, the Son is the revelation of God's heart as Lover of all."
Sermon: "Light Breaks In."
May be replaced by readings for Epiphany. See note below.
Note: The Season of Epiphany begins on January 6, The Day of Epiphany of the Lord.
If January 6 is a weekday, Epiphany may be celebrated on the first Sunday in January and replace the readings for Sundays following Christmas Day.
And here are the key calendar dates for 2020.
* Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Bruce J. Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on ... The Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel of John; The Book of Acts; The Letters of Paul; The Book of Revelation; and others.
+ Link to Amazon.com Bibliography for Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Annotated New Testament, The Bible With and Without Jesus, Short Stories by Jesus, Entering the Passion of Jesus, and others.