“What Shall I Cry?” Advent 2023

Since September, we’ve been working our way through the Narrative Lectionary.  This series of readings roughly follows the chronology of the biblical story.  We began with creation and have reached the Babylonian exile. 

One of the inherent features of the Narrative Lectionary is that we go nearly four months without any readings from the New Testament.  Have you noticed?!  And one of the challenges is to take these scriptures on their own terms, strange as they are at times, without simply discounting them or reading them as a prelude to Jesus.  These were, in fact, the very scriptures from which Jesus drew wisdom.

This Sunday is the beginning of Advent.  As the Narrative Lectionary is designed, we’ll stay in the Hebrew Bible all the way through Advent until Jesus is born which, quite naturally, transitions us into the gospels and early church. 

For this year’s Advent theme we’ll be dwelling on a phrase from Isaiah chapter 40.  The prophet is told to cry out to the people, and responds by asking “What Shall I Cry?”  In this case, cry means to proclaim or speak, not just mourn.  It’s a good question to live with, one we’ll be looking at from different angles throughout the season.  What words do we need to speak? What do we need to hear?  How, like Jesus, do we not just say words, but embody them?