welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

December 12, 2009

advent III—dec 13, 2009

third sunday in advent (year c)
resources for this day

today's readings
zephaniah 3:14-20
Isaiah 12:2-6
philippians 4:4-7
luke 3:7-18

today's bach cantatas
bwv 186a, "fret not, o soul"
bwv 141, "this is now the gospel truth"

collect for the day (
stir up thy power, o lord, and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,

let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
through jesus christ our lord, to whom,
with thee and
the holy ghost, be honor and glory,
world without end. amen.

journey to the cradle, III
question: why is the third candle on the advent wreath pink or rose-colored?

answer: in the liturgical tradition, today is known as "gaudete sunday". gaudete is a latin word that means rejoice, and the third candle on the advent wreath is rose to mark this sunday as a special day of rejoicing.

like lent, the 40 days of fasting and preparation for holy week and easter, advent is primarily a penitential season of readying the heart through repentance and self-denial. midway through lent is a day known as "laetare sunday" (o be joyful) or "refreshment sunday". worship on this day provides a respite from the somber, penitential character of lenten discipline, giving a sense of hope to god's people that the day of celebration is coming. likewise, midway through advent gaudete sunday encourages us that god's coming is near, and calls us to shout for joy in glad anticipation.

the three texts from zephaniah, isaiah, and philippians proclaim this theme exuberantly.

the gospel passage (luke 3:7-18), describing john the baptizer's preaching, is not so transparently about joy. it begins by describing john's preaching and giving an example of what some might call a "fire and brimstone" sermon of judgment and repentance. however, even this strong message seems to awaken a desire for god in the hearts of his hearers, and they eagerly ask john how they can conform their lives to what he is calling them to do.

then, this word: "...the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the messiah..." (luke 3.15). john points them to jesus, and luke's narrative ends with the baptizer faithfully continuing his proclamation of the good news.

gaudete sunday is designed to heighten our sense of expectation, and thus increase our joy. like children who find it hard to sleep on christmas eve, we yearn with exquisite longing for the coming of our savior, the revealing of his eternal gifts, and the satisfaction of an endless holy day with god's forever family.

today's church year art
birth and naming of john the baptist

giotto di bondone, Peruzzi Chapel, Church of Santa Croce. 1313/14

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for all that you are doing at internetmonk.com

    Could you send me an email at mike_kim_bell@hotmail.com or leave a comment in the about me at eclecticchristian.com so I can send you an email.


    Mike Bell