The Rev. Randy Knutson
1 Advent B Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I have heard so many sermons begin with those words; I can not tell you the number. But it is only with my new Study Bible that I now understand with these words, Paul was not just creating a very poetic way to begin his letters. He was using two greetings to speak to the two worlds he was ministering and writing to. “Grace” was a Greek term, a greeting to the many Gentile followers of Christ, reading or hearing his letters, including today’s lesson from 1st Corinthians. “Peace” or “Shalom” is a Hebrew greeting that is still used and means more than stillness or lack of conflict in your life and world, but also a sense of completion, of wholeness. So I can think of no more appropriate greeting to you on this first Sunday of Advent than ‘Grace and Peace to you’: greetings in the midst of the two worlds we now inhabit: Advent, with the call to watch, wait and hope and the constant societal and commercial reminders that Christmas is only days away. I am very glad that Bishop David Rice and Mother Elaine have begun our journey into the new church year pointing out the value, the importance of observing Advent as an time of thoughtful waiting and preparation. Their words ring true!
Welcome also to this new church year! With Advent, we begin a new year of readings, focusing our attention on the Gospel of Mark, mostly.
I say, mostly, because Mark is the oldest, shortest and most terse, to the point Gospel of the four in the canon. We will be reading from Mark, but when the passages are not enough to fill out all the Sunday’s of Advent, Epiphany or Lent, expect Gospels from Luke or John to also be part of this new year. Mark is short enough that there are at least two traveling speakers who go about the country dramatically portraying the Gospel of Mark, reciting it from memory. I know Mother Elaine has mentioned a Lenten practice of people meeting and reading this Gospel aloud together, each taking a section. Doing this takes little more than two hours.