Pastor Howard's Update 

Preparing for Advent

The festival of All Saints, with its connection to the faithful departed, draws all people into the mystical body of the resurrected and ascended Christ, who has brought about life and salvation. Christ the King Sunday, celebrated the last Sunday prior to the beginning of Advent, continues this theme of "coming" by focusing on one of Christ's offices, that of king. Christ's kingship is continued into Advent, Christmas, and the time after Epiphany as well.
The gospel for the first Sunday of Advent places us near the end of Luke's gospel, where Jesus cautions his followers to "be alert" because redemption is drawing near. This redemption comes from the Son of Man, who is coming in a cloud (fast forward to Transfiguration, the last Sunday in the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle, where the bringer of salvation is encircled by a cloud and his authority is affirmed).
John the baptizer moves onto the salvation stage in the gospel readings for the remainder of the Advent season. On the second and third Sundays, the Baptizer's public witness at the Jordan River announces the one who is both before and after him, before in terms of being the Word at the beginning of all things, and after in being born (incarnated) six months after John. Chronologically, John's appearance is made known on the fourth Sunday, when Mary visits Elizabeth and Zechariah, and John (even before his own birth) leaps at the presence of the mother of the Lord. This recognition leads Mary to proclaim her song, the Magnificat, one of Luke's three canticles.
From a historical perspective, at least in terms of a timeline, the four Sundays of Advent flow backward. The chronology of the gospel readings tells us that time operates differently, and Advent is not just a reenactment of a section of the life of Jesus. The introduction to Luke's gospel is read on the fourth Sunday, which announces the upcoming arrivals of John and Jesus. The third and second Sundays narrate John's appearance in the wilderness prior to Jesus' public ministry. And a parable at the end of Jesus' earthly ministry is center stage for the first Sunday of Advent.
Following the tradition of the early medieval church, each of these gospel readings is complemented by readings from the Old Testament. For the Sundays of Advent, these texts come from the prophets Jeremiah, Malachi, Zephaniah, and Micah. Although Jeremiah makes an appearance more frequently in the lectionary, the other three seldom appear.
The primary function of prophets is to speak the word of the Lord to the current situation. In the Advent readings, they do just that! They call on the people to rejoice and be glad, for God is fulfilling God's promise of being in the midst of God's people, where love and peace will reign. These prophetic words are no less true now as they were when they were first uttered or when Christ was born or will be when Christ comes again.

Come and worship the King!
                                                       Pastor Howard

Celebrate, Love and Serve our Lord in and through the Word of God!