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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Year A - Seasons of Advent and Christmas - 2022
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. Don't we, even today, still doubt / question / hesitate to believe Mary's telling of how she became pregnant? Don't we still, even today, gloss over the shaming Mary and Joseph would have had to live with?
As our own time becomes more like Mary's - filled with uncertainties and impossible-to-know-for-certain-the-long-term-consequences-of-present-day-choices - we need Mary and Joseph to help us learn how to trust taking actions for the wellbeing of all life.
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 formatted to be a half-page insert 5.5 by 8.5 inches.)
Advent 1: Mary and Joseph, Luke 1:26-38 and Matthew 1:18-25. Advent 1 Candle Lighting
Advent 2: Mary and Elizabeth, Luke 1:39-45 and 46-56 (2 separate readings with verbal background about Elizabeth, Zechariah and their son John) Advent 2 Candle Lighting
Advent 3: The Shepherds, Luke 2:8-20. Advent 3 Candle Lighting
Advent 4: The Magi, Matthew 2:1-12. Advent 4 Candle Lighting
And yes, we do re-read these passages on Christmas Eve in their Lectionary appointed hour.
And of course, reading the prophets alongside 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.
Below are the Lectionary Gospel readings.
And a heads up that Christmas Day, December 25, is a Sunday this year.
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Acknowledgement in oral presentations is not required.
Otherwise, please acknowledge source as, "David Ewart, www.holytextures.com."
Year A - Seasons of Advent & Christmas - 2022
November 27, 2022
"This is what Advent is. In anticipation of Jesus arriving, we practice now how we expect to live then."
December 4, 2022
"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."
December 11, 2022
"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."
December 18, 2022
"Joseph was indeed righteous. But more importantly, he was merciful, faithful, and courageous."
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)
Proper II: Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20
Proper III: John 1:1-14
First Sunday After Christmas Day
January 1, 2023
"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."
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 ...?."
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."
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 2023.
Short, easy to use, faith inspiring explanations of the meaning of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for your sermon, homily, bible study, or reflection.