|The Annunciation - Lk 1:26-38|
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
First reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55
or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
Second reading: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-28)
Ekklesia Project: What Sort of Greeting?
The Brazos Blog: Luke 1:26-38.
But what he says is still more extraordinary: “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). The term kecharitōmenē (“highly favored one”) is highly unusual, precedented in the Septuagint only in Dan. 10, where Gabriel is likewise the speaker, and it establishes here a connection between Mary as singular “chosen one” and her most saintly Old Testament predecessor in relationship to the eschatological fulfillment of God’s purpose to redeem his people.
Mary is perhaps to all outward appearances quite ordinary, but in the divine perspective she is to be revealed as extraordinary on a level yet unimagined in her culture.
The subversion of normative cultural expectation is heightened in several ways, some highlighted by the pairing of this narrative with that of the announcement to Zacharias of John’s birth: special births in scripture had always been announced to the father to be; this time it is the woman who hears first. Gabriel says to Mary, “The Lord is with you,” not merely in greeting but in the context a strong affirmation of her chosenness.Jesus Creed: Luke’s Counter-Cultural Christmas Story.
Jesus’ birth should be heard as a polemic against political pretenders promising to deliver what only he can. As Luke makes clear, Jesus is savior and not some Caesar. His birth is the real good news. He is the one who will bring peace and joy to the whole world—even beyond Rome’s Empire. That is why endless angels from heaven sung about Jesus’ greatness whereas Caesar had to settle for some dudes he paid. Rome is only a parody of the reality found in Jesus.
Not surprisingly, Jesus’ method for remaking the world doesn’t look like Rome. Jesus does not bring about revolution through conquest and fear of reprisal. He doesn’t silence dissidents with the sword or subjugate nations involuntarily. Jesus delivers in a whole new way. Jesus’ kingdom policy involves compassion, justice, suffering to serve others, and empowering the oppressed and ostracized. Enemies are loved rather than slaughtered and arrogance is replaced by humility. These are the hallmark moments of Luke’s Gospel.
Social transformation results from personal transformation demonstrated publicly. Jesus’ kingdom is no spiritual escape from the complexities of life in this world and its societal structures. It is designed to reorder it all. It intends to address the same problems for which politicians develop policies and programs. Luke’s counter-cultural Christmas story calls us to re-commit to the way of Jesus rather than methods of unjust power brokers. Jesus can create peace in situations where human factions only foster violence.Scot McKnight: 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Allen R. Bevere: How Does Emmanuel Come to Us?
First Things: Spirit in Flesh by Peter Leithart.
The Word becomes flesh to continue to dwell among us, so that he can put our sinful flesh to death. He plants the seed of the Spirit in flesh to produce the Spirit’s fruit, so that we can live the life of the Spirit even in flesh. The unprecedented advent of the Word in flesh is the beginning of an unprecedented human possibility: We too become fully human as we live by faith in the Son of God who gave his flesh for us.Catalyst: Advent and Violence.
First Things: Bonhoeffer in Advent by Timothy George.
Missio Alliance: Reclaiming Eve at Advent (with reference to Bonhoeffer).
The Millennial Pastor: Do Not Be Afraid - Christmas Will Survive Advent.
We need Advent because it tells us the whole story. It tells us the deeper story. John the Baptist, the Angel and Mary are not just cool characters in rich narrative. They are powerful symbols and reminders that we are still Advent people.
Advent reminds us that Christmas – that the birth of Messiah – is for a world still waiting in darkness, still waiting for justice, still waiting for healing. Advent tell us that Messiah isn’t just a cute baby born in a barn to poor parents. Advents tells us that Messiah is God’s answer to human darkness.Experimental Theology: Christmas Carols as Resistance Literature - O Holy Night and It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Richard Beck.
Michael Gorman: Advent Reflections on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
Scot McKnight: Advent Church: God with Us in Jesus.
An Advent Church tells the Jesus story all year long.
An Advent culture is created even more when this Jesus who is God-with-us becomes the story we tell, the one we worship, and the one we follow the entire year long. Year after year. Decade after decade.
An Advent church doesn’t tell a story about its pastor or its worship teams or its numbers or its political preferences or its affluent lifestyles. An Advent church tells and embodies the story that Jesus. Is. God. With. Us.The Advent O Antiphons:
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)We wait with hope, peace, joy, and love. Come, Lord Jesus!
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
*'Prayers for the Week' are collects from the Book of Common Prayer that can also be followed here and here.
*Weekly readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary.