Note: COCU relates to a way of coding for the lectionary year.
2 Samuel 7: 1-11, 16
God, through the prophet Nathan, declares God’s promise to David that he will establish his kingdom forever, will give him peace from his enemies, and will establish a nation for God’s people.
Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26
A celebration of God’s choosing of David, and strengthening him to serve God as king.
Romans 16: 25-27
Paul celebrates the God who has fulfilled prophecy and has made known the Good News about Jesus so that Gentiles might believe.
Luke 1: 26-38
The angel Gabriel visits Mary and declares that she will give birth to God’s son. He also tells her about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and Mary accepts her calling.
(RCL Readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
General Advent resources here.
WCC prayer cycle – prayers for Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan.
Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Holy One, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour….For God has shown strength with her* arm; she has scattered the proud in their illusions. She has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; she has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1.46-47, 51-53)
These are dark times.
Mary has no reason to rejoice in the present tense,
as if God has already accomplished this turnover.
The mighty are still in power, revelling in debauchery,
robbing the poor, looting instead of leading,
crushing the wanderer, destroying the temple.
The Emperor has not yet even begun to buckle.
Why does Mary sing God “has” shown strength?
Is her faith just wishful thinking? Abject delusion?
Is hope just crazy fantasy?
From the beginning God has established the power
not of death but of resurrection,
given love all the power
and hollowed out the might of the oppressors.
It’s too late already for the Emperor and his rage.
The true power in this universe
is not in the fearful hands of the mighty,
but the humble hearts of the loving.
Mary has already said Yes. Her sisters have said Yes.
The earth has turned.
A million peasant girls are out there,
ten million, a hundred million,
bearing the Divine, resisting, persisting, rising
like the dawn on the solstice.
The Emperor cannot stop this.
People of love and truth, people of humble courage,
bear the Holy Spirit into this world,
the Word made flesh, the Body of Christ, eternal,
crucified and risen, and coming again.
The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness can’t overcome it.
Hope is not deluded. Hope is knowing
what the despairing Emperor cannot even imagine.
By the tender mercy of our God
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1.78-79)
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
(*Steve has chosen to use the female pronoun for God. In Hebrew, gender is not used for God but in English gender pronouns are used, usually male. There is a lot written about this – here’s one article. It matters what language and images we choose to describe God. As Steve has chosen to use female pronouns for God I have left ‘she’ and ‘her’ in the reading. I usually endeavour to use as little gender specific language as possible).
David MacGregor, Together to Celebrate, Christmas Eve