I’m thinking about taking a new look at Advent. And you are coming, too.

Every Sunday, just about, I lead the chapel service at our hospital. Not the Mass. There’s a priest who leads that. It’s the interdenominational one . And it’s part of my work as a chaplain. 

For years, I think, these services have used the Revised Common Lectionary. It’s a way to have the Scripture and the Church calendar structure provided. 

The lectionary runs on a three-year cycle, beginning a new year on the first Sunday of Advent. 2022-2023 is year A. 

There are three helpful things about this approach. 

1. If someone else is leading the service, there is a clear place to start. 

2. If I write a prayer for each Sunday, then I can gather them at the end of the year and make them available, as I have done twice. (God. We Need You. and God. We Still Need You.)

3. I can use the message from three years previous as a starting point for the current Sunday. 

Because almost no one other than Nancy and I hear any given sermon, this is a useful starting point. 

As I approach Advent this year, however, that sense of looking to the past feels off. 

In the early morning hours of the day after the second Sunday in Advent, 2019, my mom died. And within four months, my work was fundamentally shaped by COVID-19. Looking back at those messages prepared so close to those major life changes is suggesting to me that I start fresh rather than starting from reusing. And the work that invites suggests that I’ll more closely connect the Sunday teachings with the daily writing here. 

Sunday, November 27, is the first Sunday of Advent. 

Here’s to new beginnings and to reflection. 

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By the way, Saint John of the Mall is still a really good book. And Giving the Year Meaning is still a really good set of prompts for individual or group reflections. So I think you’ll be helped if you buy them. 

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