The idea of making a home for Christmas might sound a little odd at first. We might rather say making a home at Christmas. Or fixing up our home for Christmas. But, what if we think of Christmas, not as a singular event that happened long ago which we remember each year? What if we think of Christmas, not as a noun, but as a verb?
This Advent, this time of preparation, why not take some time to reflect and study, share and listen, to think of Christmas as a way of living?
Not just for a day. For a lifetime.
What would your homes look like if you did that? Where would you begin?
What would you change? What would you keep?
And maybe more importantly, who would you invite to help you?
Each week of Advent you will be offered the opportunity to work with the Biblical voices that continue to teach us about the meaning of Christmas. Each week you will be able to explore a more specific dynamic of what it means to make a home for Christmas.
You can do this on your own. Or, you can do this with family and friends (isn’t that what making a home is all about?).
For small groups: Decide what you will focus on as a group and then work toward that goal using the other scriptures as food for the journey.
Or you can look at all of the passages and share. Or select a few.
Figure out what makes the most sense for you and do that.
Let’s begin then.
The First Sunday of Advent
The prophet, we are told, sees the word concerning Judah and Jerusalem. What does it mean to “see the word?” Of seeing beyond seeing? The word becomes a vision. Describe what you “See” in this passage. What kind of home-life is a part of this vision?
If Isaiah speaks of seeing the word, the psalm speaks of singing the word. Which raises the question, “What song do you sing?” Will your home be filled with music? What kind?
Do you know what time it is?! The passage is a personal call. “Sleeper, awake!” “Put on new clothes!” What will your wardrobe look like?
This text is about as far away, historically, from the birth narrative in Chapter 2 that we associate with Christmas. In this text Jesus is about to give himself over to the power of death in order to reveal a much greater power at work in the world: the power of love. Love wins. But the work of love is still ongoing. We live in history, between the beginning of creation
and God’s judgment and re-creation of it. We live in the “between times.”
What is the character of Christian living in these in-between times?
What does it mean to be an Advent community of faith?
What does it mean to be an Advent community of hope?
What does it mean to be an Advent community of memory?
What does it mean to be an Advent community of alertness?
The Second Sunday of Advent
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Through the prophet we hear God’s vision for renewal and peace. The “Peaceable Kingdom.” That is the hope we live with, but unlike the prophet who speaks in a future tense we claim that the Kingdom of Peace has been made present through Jesus. The future is now.
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
This Psalm is a prayer for the king. It is a prayer for righteousness and justice, especially for the poor. But we have no king. We are a democracy. Can this be a prayer for our elected leadership? And if we, the people, are the ones who select our leadership, do we not participate in the work of leadership? Perhaps the Psalm, then, is a prayer for us. If so, how can we further practice our prayer, a prayer for peace?
We have come to know God in the human. We search for God, for meaning. It turns out God, through the birth of Jesus, has come searching for us. Meaning, we discover, is in imitating Jesus. How can we do that?
John really knows how to come to the point! But, what is his point? Judgement? Haven't we had it with too much judgement? Too many of us have been wounded by self-righteous judgements that exclude rather than embrace. We want to be welcomed, all of us. We want to be loved. John reminds us that we must also be responsible and accountable for what we do.
Moving from judgement to responsibility takes us in the direction of shalom, of peace?
What does it mean to be an Advent community of shalom, of peace?
The Third Sunday of Advent
Romans James 5:7-10
The prophet speaks of reversals here. Deserts will bloom and rejoice. The blind will see. The lame will dance with joy. It is fitting for this Sunday’s theme of “joy.” But what about the fact that we don’t always feel “joyous?” How do we make a home for joy even in the midst of disappointment and sorrow?
This Psalm is part of a trio of so-called “Hallelujah” psalms that conclude the Book of Psalms. Whereas the Second Sunday looked at the political implications of the coming of Emmanuel, this week centers on the very fundamentals of Christian faith. “So,” you might ask, “what are these fundamentals?” What do you think they are?
In a week we focus on joy we get this call for patience from James. Which raises the questions, “When are we to practice patience?” and “When is patience a virtue?” And when is patience a form of oppression?
Have you ever been in the situation where you wanted to ask a question, but were afraid to expose yourself to the others? And the someone else asked the question, someone seen as a very smart person, how did you feel? Relieved? Last week John was emphatic about who Jesus was, but now, in prison, he asks a question born of doubt. Jesus’ response is one that says, “You’ve heard what I have been doing. You decide for yourself.”
It’s the choice we have to make every day. The opposite of faith is not doubt. It is certainty.
What does it mean to be an Advent community of joy?