Showing posts from November, 2011

The Third Sunday of Advent, 11 December 2011

The Third Sunday of Advent - 11 December 2011 Isaiah 62:1-4. 8-11 Psalm 126 I Thessalonians 5:16-24 St. John 1:6-8, 19-28                                                                                     Background: The Advent Wreath The use of the Advent Wreath by Christians may be more of a modern innovation than an ancient tradition.   Some commentators talk about wreaths with candles being used in northern European countries as a reminder of the continuity of life, even in the harsh winter.   Other see the wreath being introduced into German churches in the 16 th Century, but one historian has located the innovation to a Lutheran Pastor, Johann Heinrich Wichern (1808 – 1881) who used a wreath in his work with poor families in the cities of Germany.   It began to be used amongst German Roman Catholics in the 1920s and by Lutherans in North American around 1930.   The custom spread to Anglicans and others as well.   The Orthodox have taken to the wreath as well, only

The Second Sunday of Advent, 4 December 2011

The Second Sunday of Advent, 4 December 2011 Isaiah 40:1-11 Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 II Peter 3:8-15a St. Mark 1:1-8                                                                                     Background: The Gospel According to Saint Mark I Last Sunday we began Cycle B of the Lectionary.   The Gospel readings in this cycle are largely from the Gospel according to Mark.   Although Matthew is usually printed as the first Gospel in the New Testament, it is more likely that Mark precedes it.   Tradition holds that Mark is the repository of the memories of Peter.   Mark is identified with “John Mark” (see Acts 12:12,25, and I Peter 5:13).   His names, a combination of Hebrew (John) and Greek (Mark) suggests that he was a Greek-speaking Jew.   There are clues in the Gospel as to its origin, not likely that of Palestine, but rather the Gentile world.   Mark makes no effort to connect his Christian message with the Hebrew Scriptures, but does explain Jewish