The Third Sunday of Advent has always fascinated me because of how different it was from most of the rest of the church year, or even the very season it is part of. Nestled near the end of the season of preparation, yes and of penance, that is Advent, we have this Sunday that doesn’t seem to belong. This sense of not belonging starts with the customary name of this day, for it is the only day in Advent that has its own special name. And that sense of not belonging increases as one enters into a church on this day and sees instead of the somber deep blue or violet of Advent the light pastel color rose in the vestments.
By Elle Dowd
The Feast of Christ the King is a fairly more recent addition to our liturgical calendar, created between the First and Second World War as a day set apart to resist the rise of fascism, nationalism, and godlessness. If you read the news, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to connect the threat of fascism to our contemporary headlines.
by Carla Christopher-Waid
Texts: Job 19:23-27a, Psalm 17:1-9, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17, Luke 20:27-38
At first read, the texts we wrestle with today speak to the resurrection. The faithful and ever believing Job speaks of when his Redeemer will walk the earth. Then, in one of the most lovely and intimate pieces of poetry in the First Testament, Job says that "in my flesh, I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another." The text turns to a blissful surrender of self for a delicious embracing of the connectivity, the unity, we experience once the moment is surrendered for the eternal. Once the loneliness of self alone is surrendered for self as part of a greater, interwoven whole. Job does not demonize his earthly flesh, he does not dismiss the importance of living fully into our God-given bodies. At the same time he looks forward to the beauty that comes from looking at his body and seeing not just the flesh of Job, but the Spirit of God. Job and God are one, Job's neighbor, the one who stands at his side, is also one with God. Therefore Job and his neighbor are not separate, not isolated and alone. They are both beloved creations of God, carriers of the same divine spark. That realization of our connectedness in the Redeemer is so beautiful that Job's "heart faints within" him.
by Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks
I spent many hours this past weekend watching the homegoing service for the Honorable Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (ashé) held at his home church, New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Many showed up and told of his life’s work and how he lived his life with love and integrity, taught and brought others along in the fight for what is right and gave his all to protect our democracy.
When remembering Congressman Cummings, one of his mentors, Larry Gibson stated that “the public Elijah that you saw was the real and authentic Elijah – there was nothing phony about him.”
by Rev. Steve Jerbi
Few of us preach on the psalms and I imagine on Reformation Sunday the other texts are more enticing. Psalm 46 is a nod to the best known hymn by reformer Martin Luther - “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” I’m guessing plenty of congregations will substitute the psalmody for the hymn.
by Pastor Marissa Sotos
Today instead of preaching a sermon straight through I have four reflections on parts of the text we just heard, and each part ends with a discussion question for you to form a small group of a couple people and talk about. So it’s kind of a sermon discussion hybrid. I’m going to start by reading the whole text again so we have the context…
Content Warning: transphobia, police violence, racism, queerphobia
by Remy Remmers
Now this will be political which should not be a surprise because the NRSV calls this passage “The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge.” Acknowledgement of a political system is in the name of this passage. Politics determine how people live their lives in an area, what public services they get, who gets certain rights, who can have economic prosperity, and more. At the same time politics can give systems and people easy ways to cause injustice to their neighbors. Everyone’s life is political, but some people feel that more readily because their lives are directly affected by the injustices politics allow and perpetuate. To say you don’t care about politics is to say you don’t care about the injustices done to your neighbor. There are injustices happening to this widow and she is going through the legal system again and again trying to get justice.
by Ray Gentry
If last week’s text was a struggle to suss out exactly what Jesus was trying to say, this week’s is quite the opposite. Summing this parable up as “Poor Guy Hero/Rich Guy Villian” is too broad a description - this parable is really about the rich guy.
I think that ends up being an important point. It isn’t uncommon for the parables to be used to bless the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized while excusing acceptance of the status quo. In this reading, despite being the only named character, the poor man dies and is carried away by the angels. It’d be like naming the John Wick franchise after the puppy - it carries all the context, but isn’t what the story ultimately focuses on. There is no discussion about Lazarus’ worthiness - he’s poor and is thus carried to by angels to his ancestors.
by Rev. Elizabeth Rawlings
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by the way you use unjust wealth so that, when that wealth is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal tents.” Luke 16:9
Imagine this: Sam works for an investment company, managing a portfolio of repackaged debt (CDOs). They sell packages of medical debt, mortgages, credit card debt, etc. for pennies on the dollar to investors who then either continue to collect debt payments (with obscene amounts of interest) or attempt to collect on the debt. Now imagine that Sam’s boss hears through the grapevine that their performance is less than spectacular. Sam is asked to come to a meeting and give an account for everything bought, sold, and earned. Facing the prospect of termination, Sam comes up with a plan to make some friends in case of unemployment: they go into the system and reduce the amount owed by hundreds of people. Sam emails those people to let them know that their debts—under which many were drowning—have now been cut by at least half. The recipients of Sam’s debt forgiveness are now more able to pay off their debts, and more able to do other things: like pay rent and buy food. Sam gets fired, but not before the story goes viral: grateful people have posted all over social media about the generous stranger who erased their debt. Someone starts a GoFundMe for Sam. Sam’s boss, though angry, is also quietly impressed at the moves Sam made. “Well played. You’re fired,” the executive texts the now former employee. A master of screwing people over for money, the executive recognizes and appreciates the way Sam used the system to screw the business and gain from it. Sam’s shrewdness (not to mention the opportunity for the company to take credit for the debt relief, and thereby lure more borrowers to the company) gets Sam a promotion instead of a firing.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by the way you use unjust wealth so that, when that wealth is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal tents.”
Every English translation I look at for this verse uses the word “dishonest,” as in dishonest manager and dishonest wealth. But according to Strong’s, adikos means unjust, unrighteous or wicked. How does your reading of this parable change when you replace dishonest with unjust?
I am a U.S. Army Veteran. I am also an organizer and activist with Veterans for Peace (link: https://www.veteransforpeace.org/); an organization that seeks to end militarism and U.S. imperialism at home and abroad by providing a counternarrative to the governmental pro-military propaganda put forth on days like Memorial Day. We tell about the true costs of war and militarism by sharing our own experiences.
This is the Revised Common Lectionary sermonizing archive.