A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent + December 10, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Second Sunday of Advent + Year B
First Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Second Lesson: II Peter 3:8-15a
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

25317069_1571097999648117_299564482_oOne of the things that I love most about the season of Advent is that we get to sing so many beautiful hymns each week. I was reminded of this last Sunday evening during our service of Advent Lessons and Carols here at St. Catherine’s. The hymns of Advent have a lot to teach us about the importance of this season and why we spend four weeks preparing for the birth of our Savior and anticipating his return.

The popular Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” for example, speaks to the expectancy of the one who will come to dwell with us, the one who is Emmanuel- God with us. Or, “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,” the eighteenth-century hymn by Charles Wesley which looks beyond our present time to the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent + December 3, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 3, 2017

The First Sunday of Advent + Year B
First Lesson: Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: Mark 13:24-37

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

24337584_1564489326975651_1342812250_nToday is the First Sunday of Advent. Today is the beginning of a new year in the life of the church, and with a new year comes new life and new possibilities. You’ll notice that the Nave and the outside of the church have been decorated with beautiful greenery and special symbols of the season, such as the Advent Wreath. The greenery symbolizes for us the eternal hope that we have in Jesus Christ, and the Advent Wreath, with its four purple and pink candles, reminds us of the four central themes that we focus on during the season: hope, faith, joy, and love, one candle for each Sunday in Advent. The white candle in the center is the Christ Candle, representing Jesus – the True Light who has come forth into the world to save us. We’ll light the Christ Candle for the first time on Christmas Eve. Since today is the First Sunday of Advent, only the first candle on the Advent wreath has been lighted. This candle serves as a symbol of hope as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift at Christmas and as we prepare for our Lord’s triumphant return.

The season of Advent is a time of waiting in hopeful expectation as we prepare for Christmas, but it’s also a time of prayer and introspection as we wait for our Lord’s return. As the psalmist writes in today’s selection from Psalm 80, “Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” Advent provides time for us to examine our lives and ask ourselves, “Are we doing the work of ushering in God’s kingdom?” “Are we ready for Christ to return?” Continue reading