Proper preparation for the incarnation does not include counting down the remaining shopping days 'til Christmas. The commercialized materialism that has come to mark the secular celebration of Advent is in many ways the direct opposite of the spirit called for as we seek to make ready for God's insertion into human history.
While Advent is the season of anticipation, it is also one of the times in the church year most focused on the here and now. Advent calls us as the people of God not only to reflect on the Lord's coming as a babe in a manger and his promised return at the end of time, but more important to open our hearts and our lives to be changed by the Incarnate Word. The one who is to come is close at hand. Be ready.
Psalm 146; Ruth 1:1-8; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34
Ruth is a book meant to be read in its entiretyGoethe called it the most beautiful "little whole"in the Old Testament. The whole story, told over four chapters, ought to be related as a piece rather than split into two parts as our lectionary stipulates.
It's remarkable that a narrative that radically overturns so many cultural mores became part of the canon. The people of Israel made a clear distinction between those who were God's people and those who were the "other,"the foreigner. Yet the hero of this story is Ruth, a Moabite, who by the conclusion is shown to be the forebear not only of King David but of Jesus himself. The story certainly illustrates a theme from today's psalm, "God protects the stranger"(146:9).