Photo: (c) Kathryn M Schreiber, 2019. Original Content: (c) Kathryn M Schreiber, 2022.
Pulling moments from classic Advent-Christmas readings, this series invites us to exercise our “wonder” muscles that we might be primed to engage in Holy Wonder. During hard times our spiritual ancestors remained open to Holy Wonder. May we do so, too!
Here’s an overview to inspire. As a busy local church pastor, I’m realistic about what I might or might not get done in time to share with you. Original content will post on the Tuesday before the Sunday featured. I’m hoping to post the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services at least a week out. I’m hoping to create a few other goodies, but not quite sure that will happen. In advance, thank you for following and for your patience! (Note: I’ve used the Common English Bible, adapted for inclusivity.)
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1st Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Hopeful Vulnerability” Scripture: Mark 13:33-37. We always celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but no being on earth or in heaven – except God – knows when The Living Christ will arrive. Being open to Holy Wonder is preparing to be surprised.
Jesus speaking to his disciples:
“Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”
2nd Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Natural Solidarity” Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2. Holy Communion. A natural wonder is a rare, though known, spectacular event. Being open to Holy Wonder includes hope in God’s care throughout the cosmos.
Isaiah speaking to his nation:
The desert and the dry land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus.
They will burst into bloom,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
They will receive the glory of Lebanon,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the Lord’s glory,
the splendor of our God.
3rd Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Communal Healing” Scripture: Luke 1:50-55. God’s dream for a just human community is foundational. Being open to Holy Wonder is having faith in divine justice before it occurs.
Mary, speaking to Elizabeth:
God shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors God.
God has shown strength with God’s arm.
God has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
God has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
God has come to the aid of servant Israel,
remembering divine mercy,
just as God promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and Sarah, and to their descendants forever.”
4th Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Spiritual Courage” Scripture: Matthew 1:18-21. Righteous Joseph deeply believed in God’s in-breaking wisdom. Being open to Holy Wonder is risking personal, social, even religious comfort to serve God.
An angel speaks to Joseph:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Christmas Eve. “Holy Wonder: God’s Here!” Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 and Isaiah 9:6-7. Holy Communion. God chose to become extremely vulnerable to be with us. Being open to Holy Wonder is humbling ourselves to God’s incomprehensible love for us.
In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.
A child is born to us, a son is given to us,
and authority will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be vast authority and endless peace
for David’s throne and for his kingdom,
establishing and sustaining it
with justice and righteousness
now and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.
Christmas Day. “Holy Wonder: Angels!” Scripture: Luke 1:26-35, Matthew 1:18-21; Luke 2:8-14. Pop–Up/Readers Christmas Pageant with “angel” carols. A Reader’s Script replaces typical service content. Narrative arc: Angel Gabriel speaks to Mary Luke 1:26-35; an angel speaks to Joseph Matthew 1:18-21 (yes, same as above); and a host of Angels speak to Shepherds Luke 2:8-14.
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