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ADVENT LESSONS & CAROLS
The Second Sunday of Advent 2015
Reflection
          Micah 5:2-5a The Ruler from Bethlehem
          Isaiah 11:1-3a, 6-10 A Little Child Shall Lead
          Isaiah 60:1-6, 20 The Glory of Zion
          Luke 3:1-6 John the Baptist Prepares the Way
          Luke 1:26-38
                The Angel Gabriel Announces the Pending Birth of a Holy Child
          Luke 1:39-45 Mary Receives a Blessing from her Cousin Elizabeth
          Isaiah 64:1-5a A Prayer for God to Intervene
          texts of hymns and anthems:
                   Creator of the stars of night
                   Let all mortal flesh keep silence
 
Christ Church
Tacoma, Washington
Sunday, December 6, 2015
The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
 
 
 
Over against a world which seems
to be careening ever nearer total madness,
 
in the uncertainty and violence of these fraught times,
 
we set tonight the words and songs of hope
God’s people have proclaimed and sung
across the centuries.
 

Words and songs
of promise,
of expectation,
of restoration,
of justice,
of peace.
 
Is the world mad,
or are we,
that we keep on
saying our words,
singing our songs,
hoping our hopes?
 
 
How many people,
all along the stretch of time,
have asked that question?
 
Asked that question,
and meant it,
 
and yet, stubbornly,
against all odds,
 
have persisted
in the insistence
that God in the past
has broken through the madness,
and will in the future break through the madness,
and even now is breaking through the madness. 
 

Darkness may cover the earth,
and thick darkness enshroud fainting hearts,
but God’s word is full of light.
         
“Arise, shine,” says the prophet Isaiah,
“for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
 
Out of Bethlehem
          shall come at last the one who is to rule,
and a shoot shall come out
          of the stock of Jesse
          and the spirit of the Lord rest upon him.
 
A virgin shall encounter an angel
and give her assent
to be the vessel
          of God’s enfleshment . . .
 
the mother of incarnation:
 
the mother of God-on-this-earth,
 
the mother of mercy,
of justice,
of compassion,
mother of sorrow,
mother of hope,
mother of joy.
 
These things have come to pass,
even now I tell you of them.
 

The times were dark and urgent
when Isaiah cried out to God:
 
“O that you would tear open the heavens
and come down . . .
so that the nations
          might tremble at your presence . . .
When you did awesome deeds
          that we did not expect,
you came down,
          the mountains quaked at your presence.”
 
 
God has come down,
not with a rending of the heavens,
or with earthquakes
and the shaking of mountains
and the trembling of nations . . .
 
but in a different kind
of awesome deed
no one quite expected . . .
 
a tiny and awesome deed,
an awesomely tiny deed,
 
the birth of a child.
 

In the cold and silence of a winter night,
in a country suffering under a brutal dictatorship,
to a people yearning for an end
          to that madness,
in a stable among the animals,
in poverty and helplessness,
the Creator of the stars of night came down.
 
Let all mortal flesh keep silence!
 

The times are dark and urgent now,
and our Advent yearning is strong.
 
We will come to Christmas
and our celebration of that
          long-ago, unlikely
                   advent of God
in the humility and vulnerability
          of the infant Jesus.
 
But it’s not as though
Jesus will not get here
until then . . .
 
why, he has been here all along!
 

Advent tells us
Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords,
was born of old,
God humbly come among us in human vesture
          to live and die as one of us.
 
Let all mortal flesh keep silence!
 
Advent tells us
Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords,
will come again in glory
at the end of all time,
the Light of light descending
          from the realms of endless day,
to establish once and for all
the Kingdom of God.
 
Let all mortal flesh keep silence!
 
Advent tells us
Jesus is among us now,
present in the power of his Spirit,
present in this assembly,
present in the heavenly food of the Eucharist,
present in the poor and disenfranchised,
in the sick and sorrowful,
in the shootings and the terror,
in our fear and helplessness,
our courage and determination,
present
in the madness
and in our yearning for the madness to end.
 
Let all mortal flesh keep silence!
And in the silence,
let us pray:
 
O God of majesty and power,
above the clamor of our violence,
your word of truth resounds.
Over nations enshrouded in despair
your justice dawns.
Grant your household
a discerning spirit and a watchful eye
to perceive the hour in which we live.
Hasten the advent of that day
when the weapons of war shall be banished,
our deeds of darkness cast off,
and all your scattered children gathered into one.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.
 
(Prayer, First Sunday of Advent p. 40 The Roman Missal 1973)