The testimony of John the Baptist in John 1

The lectionary gospel reading for Advent 3 is John 1.6–8 and 19–28, which picks out parts of John the Baptist’s testimony from the first chapter of the Fourth Gospel. Despite being highly selective from this remarkable opening chapter, it nevertheless contains key words and ideas that are carried through the whole gospel. Perhaps the most … Continue Reading

The ‘coming’ of Jesus in Mark 13

With the turn of the lectionary year, next Sunday we are in the first Sunday of Advent in Year B, and our gospel reading of Mark 13.24–37 plunges us straight into the questions around the anticipation of Jesus’ return at The End. (It is worth noting that there is no compelling (theo)logical reason why this … Continue Reading

What does Joseph add to the story of Jesus’ origins in Matthew 1?

This Sunday’s lectionary reading for Advent 4 in Year A is Matt 1.18–25. It is a short reading, but laden with significance as Matthew gives his distinctive account of Jesus’ origins. One of the presenting issues in engaging in the two narratives of Jesus’ birth in Luke and Matthew is their very distinctive perspectives, leading … Continue Reading

Should we be offended by Sausage Roll Jesus?

The high street baker Greggs released their first Advent Calendar last week and, as you will no doubt be aware, caused controversy by replacing Jesus in the manger with a sausage roll. There was the little flurry of ‘angry Christians protest’ stories, because newspaper columns only look interesting if there is conflict, and the more … Continue Reading

What is Matthew 24 all about?

Matthew 24 is the reading set for the fourth Sunday before Advent (i.e. in the countdown to Advent at the ordinary season comes to a close) and its parallel Mark 13 is the reading for the first Sunday of Advent. There is much confusion about both these passages (and the parallel in Luke 21), and … Continue Reading

Should Lent and Advent swap?

Evangelicals have not usually been strong on the liturgical year, possibly because of Paul’s language about ‘observing special days and months and seasons and years’ in Gal 4.10. But, like many evangelical Anglicans, I have come to appreciate the sense of rhythm and shape that calendar gives to the year; after all, even in our … Continue Reading

From text to (all-age) talk

Last Sunday I was speaking at St Ann’s with Emmanuel, an inner-urban church in Nottingham, using the lectionary gospel reading of Mark 1.1–8. I trace here the move from the text itself to the all-age talk and activity, and include details of the PowerPoint presentation I used. Features of the text The most striking thing … Continue Reading