Waiting: A Christmas Reflection

Posted on December 30, 2023
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It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our culture can move from holiday to holiday. Of course, most of this is driven by the incessant consumerism with which Americans are obsessed. In Fairbanks, Alaska, where I live, the average first snowfall is October 2. Christmas decorations, gifts, and retail specials are already on the…

The History of the Advent Collects

Posted on December 22, 2023
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The four Advent collects offer both a concise introduction to the season of Advent and a rich overview of the grace God offers to sinners. These collects thereby present, in microcosm, the Anglican Way as a Catholic and Reformed religion. As expressed in these collects, Anglicans hold to the great themes of the historic Christian…

Today in the Spirit: Advent 4B

Posted on December 17, 2023
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The festival day is at hand, yet the Church would have us linger longer in Advent, contemplating all that God the Father has done to foretell and prepare the arrival of “Yeshua” (“the one who delivers”) into the world. In Advent 4, Year B, the assigned Gospel reading from Luke 1:26-38 relates the narrative of…

The Good Grief of Advent: Living in the Longing

Posted on December 15, 2023
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“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end…

Today in the Spirit: Advent 3B

Posted on December 10, 2023
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It is the Advent 3B selection of readings that really puts the joy in “Joy Sunday.” All four readings include either an explicit exhortation for God’s people to rejoice in the Lord or a testimony of joy from the narrator’s heart. Since all that Mark has to say about John the Baptist before Jesus’ arrival…

Today in the Spirit: Advent 2B

Posted on December 3, 2023
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Like many of our favorite movies, Advent 2 takes us, suddenly, to a flashback in time from the noise and upheaval of the Son of Man coming on the clouds to the silence of the Judean wilderness and the sight of a strange man dwelling there. In the Gospel of Mark, though it is shorter…

Today in the Spirit: Advent 1B

Posted on November 26, 2023
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Happy New Year, Saints! We return to what the Church calls the Incarnation Cycle in the Sunday lectionary. In Year B of the three-year cycle, we embark this Sunday on the second of three pilgrimages, walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, this time with the Gospel of Mark as our main guide. Having heard…

The Book of Judith, the Jewish People, and the Advent of the Messiah

Posted on November 10, 2023
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This is the fourth part of Dr. Noll’s series, “Reading and Enjoying the Apocrypha.” The Daily Office readings for November (BCP page 760) insert ten days of readings from The Book of Judith, from the Apocrypha. This book picks up themes from the Books of Maccabees, which I reviewed earlier, and adds some gender balance…

Hymn Guide: O Come O Come Emmanuel

Posted on December 17, 2022
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Perhaps the most familiar hymn of Advent, O Come O Come Emmanuel has an ancient but obscure origin. Reference to the “O” verses, sometimes called the O Antiphons, are found in Latin literature as early as the 5th century. A set of Old English poems, written around 800 AD, expand upon the themes of each verse,…

The O Antiphons (The Liturgical Home)

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On the 17th of December we begin the “O Antiphons,” and the whole tone of Advent changes. We are only eight days (known as an Octave) away from Christmas Day, so there is an increase in activity and a renewed sense of expectation. During these last days, our prayers arise with an ever-increasing crescendo. They…