for those Rumors readers who are preparing worship services during the four Sundays of Advent.
We (Jim Taylor and I) plan to abandon the lectionary for this season. Yes, we know that’s both presumptuous and heretical. Also a little arrogant.
But here’s why.
It’s more important for people to hear the Christmas story than it is to be faithful to the lectionary. The Revised Common Lectionary is a useful tool and we will return to it. But in the Advent season it fails us.
In the churches Jim and I know anything about, attendance peaks during the four Sundays of Advent. That’s when the “almost committed” are there. This is our evangelistic opportunity. This is our one chance to talk to them about the one Christian story they know best. For many, the only Christian story they know.
Yes, the faithful core of worshippers will be there after Christmas, but even they don’t really understand why they shouldn’t sing carols and hear the Christmas story during what they think of as “the Christmas season.”
If people don’t hear the Christmas story in church, they will hear it only as told by Wal Mart and on TV. Reminds me of the couple who noticed a manger scene on the lawn of a church. “Look at that,” said one to the other. “Now even the churches are trying to horn-in on Christmas!”
So here’s a bit of advance notice about the readings we’ll be featuring during the four Sunday in Advent. In the “Reader’s Theatre” we will be using both the readings from Isaiah and from Luke.
Isaiah 7:14-16 “a young woman is with child and shall bear a son. . .”
Luke 1:26-38 “the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee . . .”
Isaiah 11:1-9 “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse. . .”
Luke 1:39-45, 56 “Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb”
Luke 1:46-55 “My soul magnifies the Lord . . .” can be used in place of the psalm or included in the gospel reading.
Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child has been born to us. . .”
Luke 2:1-7 “she gave birth to her first-born son. . .”
Isaiah 52:7-10 “how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet. . .”
You may decide to do Luke 2:1-7 again on this Sunday and then add. . .
Luke 2:8-21 “there were shepherds living in the fields. . .”
We hope this advance notice has been useful to you.