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First Sunday of Advent 2017

Gospel: Mark 13:33-37
Other readings: Isaiah 63:18-17, 64:4, 3-8; Psalm: 79 (80); 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

The season of Advent begins and with it we begin to read from the Gospel of Mark. We do not begin at the beginning. The opening verses of the first chapter will be heard next week, and will introduce us to the figure of John the Baptist. Today’s reading is from the speech of Jesus about waiting for the return of the Lord. This is the most prominent theme in the first weeks of Advent.

With the coming of the Lord we are forced to wait. This is just as well, for we need to grow in maturity and generosity, in wisdom and love, in order to be ready for our encounter with the one who is wisdom and love made flesh.

Jesus speaks about the future and the end of time in Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark. This is a gospel with limited accounts of the actual teachings of Jesus. In this chapter Jesus speaks of the trials which people will have to face, and especially of the need for steadfastness among Christians. But the coming of the Lord, to gather together his people from the ends of the earth, is nevertheless assured. The verses we hear today repeatedly encourage us to be watchful for the Lord’s coming.

Our reading from the opening verses of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians strikes a similar tone. Paul speaks of ‘the last day’, ‘the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’. He assures the Christians of Corinth that they are already united with Jesus and can therefore rely on the fidelity of God.

The reading from the last chapters of the book of Isaiah expresses a deep yearning for the coming of the Lord. ‘Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!’ The people have experienced exile and the return to their own land is beset with difficulties. Trust in God’s goodness is expressed by the image of the potter and is clay: ‘we are clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.’

Do I wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord?

What do the words ‘stay awake’ mean in my life?

Let us welcome this liturgical time of waiting which will teach us how to wait for the Lord.

Let us welcome the good news again as we begin to read from the Gospel of Mark.

BLESSING AN ADVENT WREATH


Materials:
Bible, 4 candles, wreath
Scripture Passage: one of the following: Isaiah 11:1-4, 61:1-2; Mark 1:1-8; James 5: 7-10; or Philippians 4:4-7. Have a volunteer to read the passage.

Place the 4 candles (symbolizing the 4 weeks of Advent) and wreath (as shown in picture) and light the first candle for the first week of Advent. Have someone lead your family in the following prayer.

Leader:
This week we begin the season of Advent, when the days grow short and the darkness closes in. we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas the birth of Jesus who is the light of the world. Let’s sped some quiet time being aware of the darkness and longing for light.

(Pause for a few moments and then pray the Sign of the Cross).

Leader:
Lord God, bless this wreath and bless us as well. May this wreath remind us of the hope and joy that Jesus brings to this world. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

All:
Amen.

Leader:
Advent means “arrival”. In the season of Advent, the church prepares to celebrate the coming of Jesus. We recall the past, the present, and look to the future with hope. We prepare to celebrate not only the birth of Jesus but also his presence in family. We wait for the return of the Lord at the end of time when all hopes will be fulfilled. We await the coming of the light that will shine in the darkness, shining light on our path to peace.

Reader:
A reading from (name of book in Bible)
(reader reads selected reading)

Leader:
The Word of the Lord

All:
Thanks be to God

All:
Amen.

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