You may have noticed that the lectionary readings beginning with All Saints focus on the eschatological reality of the kingdom of God. Although we say Advent 1 is the beginning of the church year, the readings for the previous few weeks have already drawn the Church into visions of Kingdom. Christ the King is celebrated on the Sunday before “Advent 1.” The gospel for Christ the king presents a radical vision of a society in which the hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, and the poor are welcomed in. This vision provides the context for the season of Advent.
Week 1 presents Jesus’ teaching about the Day of Judgment.
Weeks 2 and 3 highlight the ministry of John the Baptist.
Week 4 is always a kind of Annunciation: Gabriel coming to Mary, Joseph’s dream, or the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.
All of these readings give a radical vision of God’s action: liberating the captives, causing the desert to bloom, and shaking the present structures of power until they fall. This hopeful vision is deeper and more transformative than a mere focus on “giving.” Advent allows a time for confronting what we truly lack and being honest about the darkness around us. The themes of Advent are prophetic rather than nostalgic in nature, drawing us to yearn for the light .
Questions to consider while planning Advent liturgies and events:
- What can be done to your liturgical space so that it provides a context for deep longing for the hope and light of Christ?
- How will you use darkness and light to draw the congregation deeper into the vision of the kingdom of God?
- How will individuals be challenged and encouraged to resist the cultural norm of filling the void with things and becoming dazzled by artificial lights?
- What ways can the individual stories of community members become more fully connected to the themes of Advent?
What Are We Waiting For? Re-Imagining Advent for Time to Come – This book by APLM Council Member William H. Petersen, proposes a seven week Advent season that emphasizes the eschatological nature of waiting for the coming of Christ.