Tag Archives: Narrative Lectionary

Advent and Christmas 2016

img_2616for Advent and Christmas 2016.
Revised Common Lectionary Year A.
Narrative Lectionary Year 3.

Greetings!

During the past few Advents, we have highlighted tools we use to prepare for the mystery of Christmas: the Creche, the Chrismon Tree, and the Wreath. This year, we will partner with our Missions Ministry and focus on the Advent Calendar. Whereas with a traditional Advent Calendar doors are opened and a treat is received, our Advent Calendar will invite the people to bring an item each week for Missions. We are still processing the details so edits will be made to this post over the next few weeks…and your comments are always welcome!! Do not hesitate to adjust this series to fit your lectionary focus and the needs of your community.

(Editor’s note: My church has switched lectionary! Edgewood Presbyterian is spending this year exploring the Narrative Lectionary. Created in 2010 by Luther Seminary, the Narrative Lectionary is a four-year cycle and uses fewer but bigger chunks of text each week progressing September to May from Creation to the Early Church. For more information, click here. This is why you will notice both RCL and NL texts listed each week…fortunately, they (kinda) line up thematically for Advent.)

The Basic Outline

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Since we will be asking the people to bring items each week, we will use this Sunday prior to Advent to introduce the series.

Advent 1: November 27
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Womens Shelter

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Mens Firehouse Shelter

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs (Like Hershey’s)

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

And now the sermons…

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Good morning!

Often times when we gather, we talk about the Church Calendar. We talk about the special seasons and the special days of the Church Year. We have the Season of Lent right before the Season of Easter. And after Pentecost, during the Green Growing Season of summer and fall, we have the special days of Communion Sunday and All Saints. Today on the Church Calendar is called Christ the King Sunday. Today we celebrate the glory of the Lord…and we also look forward to a new Church Year. Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday on the Church Calendar. That means next Sunday begins a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. And Advent is the time when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Talking about calendars and Advent…well, I’m sure you have heard those two words together. One of the many ways we mark Advent and prepare for Christmas is with an Advent Calendar. There are many different kinds of Advent Calendars: some have pictures, some have stories, and some have candy or toys…but they all count down the days to the mystery of Christmas.

Advent Calendars have been used around the world for just over 100 years. On traditional Advent Calendars, a door is opened each day. Doors are a symbol for welcome and sharing and new opportunity. This year at EPC, we celebrate Christ the King Sunday by opening the door to a new Church Year and a new kind of Advent Calendar. Starting next week, for our Advent Calendar, instead of counting days, we will count weeks. And instead of us getting something, we will give items for Missions. Each week, we will bring an item to the church; gather our items; read the Bible Story; and then the items will be delivered to those in need. We will count down to and prepare for the mystery of Christmas by following Christ’s example of welcome and sharing, by sharing God’s love with our community.

And so what we will bring for next Sunday? For the First Sunday of Advent, we will collect…honey. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, get a jar of store-bought, processed honey and next week, we will collect them for the Food Pantry at IPC; and we will see how honey is a sweet way to share God’s love.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Christ the King,
Thank You
for the special days and seasons
of the Church Year.
Thank You
for many ways
to share Your love.
We love you.
You love us.
Amen

***

Advent 1: November 27
Keep Calm and Advent On
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed, commercial honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.
Inspiration: In his Advent book Like a Cat Asleep on a Chair, my friend Wayne McLaughlin reflects on “The Clause” by C.K. Williams, “This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness…”

Good morning! Happy New Year!

Today we start a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Today, for the First Week of Advent, we are giving jars of honey to the IPC Food Pantry.

Honey is made by bees. Bees are very busy. Always moving, always working, always buzzing. Sometimes I feel like our world is a great big beehive—all the people are buzzing with activity just like bees. We race through the days doing this, taking care of that. We don’t slow down. We don’t stop. [Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is about the Prophet Daniel; he’s the one who ends up in the lions’ den. And how does Daniel get through? Daniel stays calm. Daniel stays calm and trusts God.] [RCLectionary: Our Bible Story today from the Gospel of Matthew reminds us to be ready for God, but not worry about God. We are to keep calm and trust God.]

At this time of year, the world seems particularly busy and crazy. But for us at church, Advent is a time to be particularly calm. We are called to pause from the buzzing here and there of the world around us. During Advent, we prepare for the mystery of Christmas calmly, quietly, peacefully.

Bees move quickly. But honey…when we pour honey, it moves sweetly and slowly. Our gift to the Food Pantry gives us a touch of peace while giving others a touch of God’s love through the sweetness of His creation.

Sharing peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the First Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our first gift. Next week, for the Second Week of Advent, we ask you to bring pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for bees who are quick.
Thank You
for honey which is slow.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Women’s Shelter

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Last Sunday, for the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry. Today starts the Second Week of Advent, and today we have brought pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter.

[Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Joel.]
[RC Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Isaiah.] We hear words of hope for our future. But hope is not a weak word that means ‘we wish.’ Hope is a strong word that means ‘we know.’ During Advent, we renew our hope, renew our knowledge that our future is beautiful and abounding in God’s love.

Pajamas are an odd gift to connect to hope. But let’s think about it. We don’t have to have pajamas; a t-shirt and shorts work just fine. So giving pajamas goes beyond the practical, beyond what is needed; pajamas are special. And giving something special is a way of expressing hope. First Light Women’s Shelter is a place for women who do not have a home. By giving pajamas to the guests at First Light, we are wrapping them in a coat of love, love, love. We are renewing their hope, their knowledge that their future is beautiful and always abounding in God’s love.

Sharing hope and peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Second Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our second gift. Next week, for the Third Week of Advent, we ask you to bring socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm, express hope, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for pajamas
to keep all Your children warm.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Men’s Firehouse Shelter
Editor’s Note: For this Sunday, an alternate Revised Common Lectionary is the Annunciation which falls on Week 4 in the Narrative Lectionary. This gets a bit tricky, but you may want to switch my sermons around and do Week 4 here and adapt this theme to fit the RCL for Week 4. Confusing, I know!

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; last Sunday, for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of  pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. Today starts the Third Week of Advent—and today we have socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter.

Let me explain. The Firehouse Shelter helps men who need housing or clothes or food or help with medicine or school or work or the law. Socks may not seem big enough to help, but think of this. Our feet are our friends. Taking care of our feet is important so that we can feel healthy and get around in this world. When our feet hurt, everything hurts; when our feet feel good, it sure helps our heart and mind and the rest of our body feel good.

[Narrative Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God loves us by clothing us with salvation and righteousness. Salvation and righteousness are not actual clothes that we wear; Isaiah is being poetic about how God makes us feel safe and comfortable. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk securely in God’s love.]
[RC Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah looks to the glory of the Lord…describing how the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame shall leap like a deer. Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God makes us feel safe and comfortable and strong. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk strongly in God’s love.]

Sharing hope and peace and comfort is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Third Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given another gift. Next Sunday starts the Fourth and final week of Advent. For next Sunday, we ask you to bring…a bag of Chocolate Kisses and Hugs. And through this Advent Season, remember: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for socks
to bring comfort to all Your children.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs. (Like Hershey’s)
Editor’s Note: Sorry that the Narrative Lectionary is not matching the Revised Common Lectionary on this day. But for the RCL, Joseph is greeted by an angel in a dream…feel free to adjust this sermon to match that text better.

Good morning!

We are still in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then last Sunday, for the Third Week of Advent, our gifts of socks went to the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. Today starts the Fourth and FINAL Week of Advent, and today we have brought Chocolate Kisses and Hugs for the guests at SafeHouse.

In our Bible Story today, Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel and learns that she is to be the mother of Jesus. That’s a pretty big job to be given in this world—and immediately Mary says, “Here I am Lord!” While she joyfully accepts this call, Mary realizes that she needs to make plans and prepare, so she travels to her Cousin Elizabeth’s house. There Elizabeth greets Mary with hugs and kisses, and Mary has time to prepare for the new life before her in peace and comfort.

We, too, are a people who like to prepare for what comes next. Advent is the Season when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. But throughout the year and throughout the world, there are people who need to go some place to make their plans. We have brought these chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. SafeHouse is a peaceful, comforting place for women in need to go and make their plans for what is next in their lives. Our chocolate gifts are symbols of our own greetings of hugs and kisses to welcome them as they prepare.

Sharing hope and peace and comfort and greetings is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Fourth and Final Week in Advent and we have opened our hearts and given another gift. This coming Saturday is Christmas Eve. We will again celebrate the mystery of Christmas! But we will bring one more gift—to finish our journey to Christmas we want you to bring a gas card—those prepaid cards to use at gas stations—so Pastor Joe can help people in need get where they need to be. So for this final week of Advent: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, offer greetings, and Advent on!

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for chocolate
to greet all Your children with hugs and kisses.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
to offer greetings
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, Christmas is here! We have counted the Four Weeks to the mystery of Christmas, opening our hearts each week with gifts for those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week, our pajama gifts went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter on the Third Week; and last Sunday, chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. Tonight, Christmas Eve, you have brought gas cards.

As we hear our Bible Stories tonight about the birth of Jesus, I think it is funny for us to bring gas cards. Mary and Joseph travel by donkey; the shepherds use their feet; and later the wisemen will ride camels. None of them are stopping at gas stations. But throughout these stories, the people of God are traveling. They are going forth, answering God’s call.

The people of God are stilled called to go forth, and we are the people of God. Cars are one way that we go forth. Pastor Joe will keep our gifts of gas cards to share with those in need to help them go forth.

But as the Season of Advent moves to Christmas, do not think we are finished. With the mystery of Christmas, we are called to keep our hearts open—to go forth throughout the year finding other ways to continue keeping calm, expressing hope, giving comfort, and offering greetings. There is always more work to do for God and with Jesus, we have plenty to share.

Sharing is not just what Advent is all about. Sharing is what everything is all about. We have prepared for the mystery of Christmas by doing that which is the mystery of Christmas. Sharing. Always sharing.

For God so loved the world…
and we answer God’s call by going forth with open hearts and sharing. Keep calm, express hope, give comfort, offer greetings, and go forth.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the people repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Merry Christmas!
You are here!
We are here!
We are ready!
Our hearts are open!
We will go forth
and share Your love!
Amen
Amen

As the children return from the Steps, the organist will play 5 verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas…but this time regular tempo, regular key.

***

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Peace of Christ with you all as you go forth and share!

(Especially share with me any typos, mistakes, whatevers that you see!)

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

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