The World is Turning

Before a Pope in the 11th Century changed it, Advent was a parallel period of preparing—like Lent, a time of getting ready, full of lessons and singing, and anticipating a new birth as a follower of the Christ. But as Christmas became more and more secular, Advent became shorter and shorter, until now you can go into a Hallmark store (do they still have those?) and purchase an “Advent” calendar that counts down the 25 days until Christmas starting on December 1st.

Within the last couple of years, our denomination—the United Methodist Church—has been leading an effort to reclaim the early historical teachings of Advent, again like Lent, a seven weeks journey to Bethlehem and the Birth. So, in the life of the Christian year, we end the year with All Saints Sunday and begin the year the following Sunday with the First Sunday of Advent.

Here at St. John’s, we seek to also recover those traditions that honor our spiritual journeys and this year propose to celebrate Advent over seven weeks, beginning after All Saints Day, journeying through the weeks, with our climatic celebration of the Light that comes to our world on Christmas Eve. Each Sunday over these seven weeks of November and December, we explore the theme of “The World is Turning”—the concept that God is turning our world upside down; all of our Bible readings show God choosing the least likely and God’s use of power as totally different in the Kindom of God!

Week 1: November 8, is the story of Ruth from the Hebrews scriptures showing power in the powerless. [Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17]

Week 2: November 15, highlights the powerless of the powerful through the story of Hannah where we look for the surprise becomes we see something has become flipped in the text, specially as we are surprised by Hannah’s song of hope. [1 Samuel 1 & 2]

Week 3: November 22, hears us listening to the last words of David proclaiming his house is the Way with God—an eternal covenant, that God’s new type of King brings us a Kingdom “out of this world.” David proclaims that God’s Justice Will Come! [2 Samuel 23:1-5]

Week 4: November 29, features the prophet, Jeremiah who declares for us that the Day is Coming for the fulfillment of God’s promise, when God raises up a Righteous Branch from David’s line who will do Justice, for the marginalized will find hope. [Jeremiah 33:14-16]

Week 5: December 6, through our reading from the prophet Malachi, finds us needing to prepare for the Messenger, the One who is coming that will help us clean our households—creating holy & sacred space for God as we get rid of the clutter that gets in the way. [Malachi 3:1-4]

Week 6: December 13, proclaims the Lord is near, as the prophet Isaiah preaches bringing Good News to the poor through right relationships, a world (banks, schools, nations) with healthy systems—that God flips our world upside down. [Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-11]

Week 7: December 20, brings us singing alongside Mary, as she sings the Magnificat, a God who turns the world upside down; the low are lifted high, mercy is shown to everyone; the powerful and the rich are sent away and the poor and hungry are filled. Power comes out of tiny Bethlehem—home to the Prince of Peace! [Luke 1:46-55]