First Sunday of Advent – Year B

December 3, 2023

Gospel Lectionary Text

Mark 13:24-37

13:24 "But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,

13:25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

13:26 Then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in clouds' with great power and glory.

13:27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

13:28 "From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.

13:29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.

13:30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.

13:31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

13:32 "But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

13:33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.

13:34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.

13:35 Therefore, keep awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,

13:36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.

13:37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake."


Welcome to Advent — the beginning of a new liturgical year! It is a season of anticipation for the adventus, (i.e. coming or arrival) of Christ. For the next four weeks we will be in what we call the “Waiting Rooms of Christmas." These strange and frightening waiting rooms mirror the all too familiar experience of vulnerable communities, and are timely reminders of the challenges facing our world today. Each waiting room yields its own gift which, in the end, is Emmanuel, “God with us.” Yes, God is with us in all the waiting rooms of life, transforming the waiting room, the waiter, and even the waiting itself by God’s very presence.

This week we sit in the first waiting room of Christmas — the Apocalypse. It evokes images of death and destruction, but apocalypse simply means unveiling. It’s about telling hard truths and seeing things as they are. That’s what apocalyptic literature does — It names the stuff that we want to deny! This week’s text has the courage to name the darkness and chaos. It also has the audacity to claim that “he is near, at the very gates.”


How would you name the darkness in which you now wait, and how do the words of the psalmist speak to you as you occupy it? … "Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139:12)


Come, Holy Spirit, wild and free. Do as you please. Shine your light on me that I might see things as they are, not as I am. Free me to act in your name with courage, creativity, and compassion. See the complete prayer

Word from Below Reflections

Something New

It’s December and suddenly Christmas music is everywhere. Lights have gone up. Letters to Santa are being written. All is merry and bright. Mark did not get the memo. Advent with Mark is not jolly. Quite the opposite. It starts with suffering. Jesus has been listing all the suffering his followers are going to experience.

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Blue(s) Christmas

We don’t listen to Christmas music in my house until after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday morning the prohibition is lifted and Over the Rhine’s “Darling (Christmas is Coming)” is among the first songs that pierce the silence each year. However, it’s not a Christmas record that is providing the soundtrack to the opening days of…

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Stay Woke!

I hate to wake up. Yes, it beats the alternative, but it is so painful. The mattress, pillow, sheets and comforter offer such warm friendship while the cold, hard, dusty floor promises only pain. Like a bully smacking his fist, the cold air waits knowing I have to pass by on my way home from...

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Awake For What?

How much and how many can we care about before our hearts grow sleepy? There is so much to be aware of that things can dull to a low hum. It's a struggle to stay present. Addictions large and small help take the edge off, keeping us drowsy.

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Understanding the Bible anew through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard.

Weekly Homily by James Alison