Holy Textures is a spot for my musings on the various Gospel texts that come our way through the Revised Common Lectionary.
My goal is to provide timely, short, easy to use and thought-provoking background commentary for your sermon or bible study preparation.
This year, Christmas Eve is on Monday, so it'll be a busy few days for Advent 4, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. Be prepared! (Don't you love it when the Gospel proclamation has a direct application to those who proclaim the Gospel?)
Blessings to all those who prepare and host gatherings where worship encounters anew the presence of the Holy One / Holy Three.
Year C - Seasons of Advent & Christmas - 2018
Click Christmas Story in Advent for 4 Advent lessons and Candle Lighting suggestions that tell the stories of Mary and Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth, the Shepherds, and the Magi.
I have stopped using the Lectionary during Advent. Why?
It seems to me that in this day and age you can never tell the story of the first Christmas 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, the shepherds, and the Magi become cardboard cut-outs 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. Even today, don't we wonder about what really happened? Don't we doubt the facts of Mary's story?
And so I have stopped using the Lectionary.
December 2, 2018
"If God's will were to be imposed on earth, at God's sole initiative, and over-riding the earth's built-in processes for change, then we would see that what is needed is not a few minor tweaks here and there; cataclysmic over-turnings are needed. Fainting-from-fear changes are needed."
Sermon: "Signs of Hope."
December 9, 2018
"And so again we are reminded that the desire of our flesh to see the salvation of God is to desire something that is a far cry from our present lived reality."
December 16, 2018
"Indeed by going further with his image of the axe cutting at the ROOTS of the tree - as compared with cutting at the trunk of the tree - John is deepening the meaning of repentance to be RE-ROOTING."
December 23, 2018
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55).
"Does anything leap for joy within us? Can we feel the stirring of new life? Of age old hopes? Of the impossible longing to become possible?"
Sermon: "To be added."
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 30, 2018
"The return to Jerusalem by Jesus' parents ... would be risky as they would no longer be with the larger group. It would also be shameful as it would make public that Jesus had not been obedient to them"
Sermon: "To be added."
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
Not used this year
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.
* 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.