At a pro sports event, the arrival of the team is hyped by shouting, music, bright lights, and an excited announcers. Preparing for the coming of the Messiah at Christmas—not to mention his second coming—is no less exciting and noisy. This Year B series focuses on the noisy preparations for the coming of Jesus, looking at Jesus’s teaching to be alert (Mark 13:24-37), John the Baptist’s announcement of Jesus (Mark 1:1-8), the Songs of Ascents (Psalm 126), and Mary’s response to the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38).

Updated & expanded for 2023

Advent acknowledges our profound need for God to be present amidst our sorrows, pains, and dangers while looking forward to the assured divine victory. This year’s theme of “Tear Down the Heavens” is borrowed from Isaiah 64:1’s plea that God would “rip open the heavens and descend.” This series focuses on the prophetic Old Testament passages in the Advent lectionary which call for God in the midst of Israel’s troubles.

A flying white dove, symbolizing hope.

Even the secular world views Christmas as a time of hope. This Advent series focuses on the hopeful expectation of Jesus in even the darkest times in the Old Testament readings of the Year C lectionary. We start with Jeremiah 33:14-16 and see our waiting for Jesus’ second coming in the Jewish people’s waiting for their deliverance. In Malachi 3:1-4 we see how we are refined through hopeful waiting. We are then reminded that, even as we wait, God is in our midst (Zephaniah 3:14-20). Finally, we are pointed to Bethlehem by Micah 5:2-5a, where God reveals our hope in humility and strength.

Guests dressed up for the holidays at the door, bearing gifts.

Guests can be unexpected and challenging, they can fill us with gratitude and enlighten us. The Year A lectionary’s gospel texts provide a list of guests who prepare us for God’s arrival. Jesus warns us his unexpected coming (Matthew 24:36-44), while John the Baptist challenges us to turn away from comfort toward God (Matthew 3:1-3). Mary’s song, the Magnificat, encourages us and fills our hearts with gratitude (Luke 1:46b-55), and the angel’s visit to Joseph enlightens us and expands our thinking (Matthew 1:18-25).