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December 6, 2020
The Second Sunday of Advent
Year B

Themes for the Week: prophets, comfort, preparation, mortality, judgment, mercy, patience, promises of God, repentance, John the Baptist

This Sunday's Readings: Isa. 40:1-11Ps. 85:1-2, 8-132 Pet. 3:8-15aMark 1:1-8

“Still, time runs out. The Bible tells us so. The elements dissolve. The flower fades. We will all stand before the great judgment seat of Christ. If this truth is allowed a proper place in our Christian lives, it will magnify the preciousness of time. Time is a treasure precisely because it ends. Each moment and each day is an unrepeatable opportunity in which the grace of God calls out for a deeply personal response that would occur in no other life and in no other time.” Read it all.

Exploring the Texts

O Comfort My People

“Earnestly desiring a new heaven and a new earth, have we denied our citizenship, spurned our responsibility, and turned against all natural affections? God forbid. Now is the moment to pursue a life of holiness and godliness. Now is the time to ‘strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish’ (2 Pet. 3:14). News of the end should bind the heart to the present.”
Summoning Patience

“The opening lines of Mark’s gospel speak to the most enduring hope of all, that all of life and all its joys and sorrows might meet an end of deep and enduring purpose. What is life for? Yes, we wither, but is that all? John announces with a voice like Isaiah, in a similar setting of sand and heat, ‘Good News.’ The beginning of Good News, though about Jesus Christ, the one in whom we find hope and life, is a summons to change.”
Prophets of God

“Prophets in the tradition of John the baptizer are active today in the Church as well as in the world at large. Today's gospel calls us to identify and follow them, and so join in God's own work.”

Preaching Today - Sermons

John Sundara: God Is Coming Back to You

“We have been waiting for 2000 years and still the cold, wintry night draws on with little end in sight. Where is the dawn of the new day, we ask? When will Christ return bringing reward and recompense with his mighty arm, and restoring all things?”
Stanley Hauerwas: Facing Nothingness – Facing God

“Christian discipleship entails the forming of the people who know how to wait. This is Advent. This is the time of hastening that waits. Holiness and godliness are the characteristics of a people who have faced God and by doing so have refused the nihilism that threatens all our lives in this time called modernity.”
Paul Wheatley: What Time Is It?

“We live in the tension of two deep longings: The first is that we each have those places in our hearts where we ache and groan for things to be made right, for the world to be set back to right, for the brokenness of this world to be renewed. But the second is that place where that brokenness, that place where the world is weary and in need of renewal is felt not just in the world out there, but in the world inside each of us. A weary world is filled with weary hearts, waiting to be made whole.”

Classic Texts

John Calvin: Friendly Consolation

“The general meaning is this: when he shall have appeared to have forsaken for a time the wretched captives, the testimony of his grace will again burst forth from the darkness.”
John Donne: His Later Mercies Are His Larger Mercies

“God forgives me seven more sins, tomorrow, than he did today, and seven, in this arithmetic is infinite. God’s temporal, God’s spiritual blessings are inexhaustible. ‘What have we that we have not received’ (I Cor. 4:7)? But what have we received, in comparison to that which is laid up for us?” 

Listen to the audio.
St. Augustine: Rebuke Wholesomely Applied

“This is the benefit of rebuke that is wholesomely applied, sometimes with greater, sometimes with less severity, in accordance with the diversity of sins; and it is then wholesome when the supreme Physician looks. For it is of no profit unless it makes a man repent of his sin.”

Articles About the Prophets

Esau McCaulley: A Church that Loves the Prophets

“Put differently, the prophets do not only inspire our social action. They challenge us to place that social action in the context of a lively faith in the God of Israel finally fully made known in the person and work of his Son.”
Mark Michael: Advent’s Radical Prophet

“Blake viewed himself first not as a poet or an artist, much less a political activist, but as a prophet, a seer who glimpsed the glory of God and was forever transformed. A deeply arresting self-portrait in the exhibition’s first room marks him as a man of penetrating vision, one who sees through the events of his own time to the eternal verities.”
Zimbabwe Anglican Bishops Back Catholic Colleagues

“The Anglican Church of Zimbabwe notes with concern the several responses by the Government of Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference which seem to dismiss the fact that the Church is called to exercise its prophetic role, which can mean challenging our political leaders on their conduct of affairs, particularly if this affects the people of God.”

Articles on Mortality

Angela Heetderks: What an Early Anglican Can Teach Us About Sickness Today

“Amid a series of meditations on sickness as a sudden assailant, the uncertainty of treatment, and bodily misery, it is a call to value and cling to every human life — including the lives of the sick and dying. It is a call, not to brush aside the fear of death, but to let fear and suffering spur us toward a greater love.”
Neil Dhingra: Memento Mori: On Death and Evil

“The contemplation of death may be a way of recognizing a deep and unconscious religiosity that remains strangely there, even and perhaps especially in the midst of our doubts. It might also be a way of easing our frantic need to look for immortality through other means, whether through teaching (or cryogenics or transhumanism) or harsh worldview defense.”
Philip Turner: Undeniable Death

“They agree with Becker on one basic point: American society lives in denial that we all die. Further, all three agree that churches have colluded with — perhaps have even been captured by — this pervasive habit of avoidance. All three authors have had scrapes with death, which drove them from denial. In response, each has issued a call to churches to reclaim their ministry to the dying.”

Articles About John the Baptist

Garwood Anderson: John’s Advent Epiphany

“John was rather telling the story as it should go, though by interposing his offer of amnesty, he tells a more gracious version. But while he prepared the way of the Lord, he was not prepared for the ways of the Lord Jesus.”
Jeremy Bergstrom: Ember Days for All

“It’s no mistake the Church yokes one of these Embertides with John. Though he doesn’t make for polite company, there is no better role model for our clergy to follow than he as they ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ in the midst of the barren deserts of modern society and the human hearts that dwell therein.”
Kate Moorhead: Proclaiming Good News

“John does not seem to be concerned with what anyone thinks of him. He has let that all go. For John, it is not important to please anyone but God. He always tells the truth about what he sees. When people come to him to be baptized, he can tell that they come only for security and not for discipleship.”
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