A map for Advent

It is now the 2nd millennium of the reign of Christ the King, when Francis was Pope, Michael was bishop, John was pastor, and the people gathered at St. Francis. Again the voice cries out: “Prepare the way of the Lord” – as it did last year; as it will again. What will you remember about this Advent? Other seasons of Advent?

Did you know I used to live in Loudoun County back in the 1980s? I owned a home in the hamlet of Paeonian Springs. After growing up in Florida and always living near the ocean, suddenly I was inland and living on the first ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After years of competitive swimming, I was now living in a county that did not have a public swimming pool. I needed a new sport. Continue reading

kosmos and oikoumene

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent in lectionary cycle C, the year when the Gospel of Luke is the primary source of our gospels. Today we continue to look at details of the narrative. In this final post, we look at the verses as Luke’s message pivots from the call of repentance to Israel, to a call of universal salvation for all people. Continue reading

Baptized

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent in lectionary cycle C, the year when the Gospel of Luke is the primary source of our gospels. Today we continue to look at details of the narrative. The previous post discussed “the word of God” coming to John in the desert. Let us consider John’s mission.

He went throughout (the) whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins

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God’s Design

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent in lectionary cycle C, the year when the Gospel of Luke is the primary source of our gospels. In the two previous posts we covered the historical and scriptural context of our gospel reading. Today we begin to look at details and how they help create Luke’s overarching theme: preparing the way. As Luke promised his patron Theophilus, the gospel will be an orderly presentation (Luke 1:3) – and so he begins with  history. Continue reading

The Cast of Characters

This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent in lectionary cycle C, the year when the Gospel of Luke is the primary source of our gospels for the coming 12 months. The gospel is taken from a section in which Jesus is preparing for public ministry. Luke these six verses of the Sunday gospel, Luke places the story of Jesus in continuity with the biblical history of God’s dealings with humanity found in the Old Testament. As well, he places the story in the context of human history and begins with the familiar “In the fifthteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar.”  Verses 1 and 2 need a “playbill” so you  might familiarize yourself with the “actors.” Continue reading

Highways and paths

In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” so says our first reading. Highways are coming from one place, going to another, but the places were already there before we built the highways. Makes me think about cities, towns and villages – or more specifically, why they are where they are in the first place. Cities along the seacoast, more particularly, on inlets, rivers, and bays leading to the ocean make sense to me.  They are places with harbors, protection from direct ocean storms, access to fresh water, and other factors. Water certainly plays a major role in locating cities – not only for drinking purposes, but for transportation and strategic control of an area. The Shawnee nation understood that. The three rivers area of western Pennsylvania was the center of the Shawnee nation. Today, we call that center Pittsburgh.

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Advent Preparations

Next Sunday is the 2nd Sunday of Advent in Year B. You can read a full commentary on the gospel reading here.

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of God). 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” 4 John (the) Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 6 John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. 7 And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:1-8)

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Good advice

We get lots of advice all through our lifetime. And it comes from many different venues. For example: advice on the best schools, places to live and vacation, and places to dine. If you buy a book on Amazon, watch a movie on Netflix, or do anything online, they are quick to advise you on other books to purchase, movies to watch, or what’s next in your life. Go to a brick-and-mortar book store and check out the self-help section for a universe of advice. Every aspect of our lives is a portal for advice; consider fashion advice. I have to admit I don’t pay too much attention these days. These days, my wardrobe consists of a basic brown Franciscan habit and minimal accessories – a knotted white cord to be precise. Still, it is all difficult to avoid in the course of a day. Continue reading

The Forerunner

This coming Sunday marks our journey into a new liturgical year and a new Season, the 2nd Sunday in Advent in Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here. The Gospel readings for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent always focus on John the Baptist. Since we are again in Lectionary Year A, the two selections are from Matthew 3:1-12 and 11:2-11, respectively. One might ask: Why were these two passages from chapters 3 and 11 chosen? The short answer: They both deal with John’s role in preparing for Jesus, making them particularly suited for Advent. But how? On the 2nd Sunday of Advent each year, the Gospel reading presents the preaching of John the Baptist. Although we normally call him “the Baptist,” Matt 3:1-12 does not focus on his baptizing activity as much as on other aspects of his ministry: John as Preacher/Prophet, and John as the Forerunner to Jesus.

1 In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea 2 (and) saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3 It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” Continue reading