Advent 1: The Importance of Staying Awake

“You will find the living God in the pages of the Bible.  You will find him also just exactly where you are.” Mother Frances Dominica

Guidance for your Lectionary reading, November 28, 2010

Print off the following Scriptures so that you can move away from your desk and settle into a place that is conducive to quiet reading and reflection.  If you wish, have your journal with you in case there are any personal reflections you wish to capture in writing.  Remember that you are not reading for sermon preparation or any other ministry purpose.  You are engaging Scripture now for the sole purpose of allowing God to speak directly to your soul.

Begin by breathing deeply as a way of quieting yourself and opening to the Holy Spirit who is closer to you than your breath.  Invite God to speak to you through his Word in these moments.  Keep breathing.

Read all four passages slowly and reflectively, not primarily to gain information or analyze the texts but listening to get a general idea of the Biblical themes contained in the lectionary Scriptures for the first week of Advent. Then choose one passage for reading, pondering and savoring today using the process of lectio divina. You might want to move through the passages in order or you could start with the Gospel and then move to the others as the week progresses. Once you have chosen the passage, read it  four times (silently or aloud) asking a slightly different question each time.  Allow for a few moments of silence after each reading.

• In the first reading, listen for the word or the phrase that strikes you. In the silence that follows, just savor the word.

• In the second reading, listen for the way in which your life is touched by this word.  What is it in my life that needed to hear this word today?

• In the third reading, listen for an invitation from God contained in this word.  Is there something God is inviting me to be, or do in response to this word? What is my response back to God?

• Read the passage a fourth time and rest in the word you have received in total yieldedness and abandonment to the love and the will of God.

• Resolve to “live out” or incarnate the word you have received as God leads.

The lectionary schedule is taken from the Revised Common Lectionary Cycle A; Scriptures are quote from the New Revised Standard Version.

Isaiah 2:1-5

1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3 Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Psalm 122

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

2 Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem built as a city that is bound firmly together.

4 To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

5 For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.

7 Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”

8 For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”

9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

Romans 13:11-14

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 24:36-44

36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

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Ruth Haley Barton

(Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founding president/CEO of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.


  1. Marcia dorey on November 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I think some of what you say is adaptable to the lectionar readings I have –but the ones I must use for church come from Isaiah 64, Psalm 80, 1 Corinthians, and Mark 13. I checked out each entry in your posting and didn’t find these scriptures.
    What you have said is lovely, and will be good for my private reflection – but not so much help for my preaching preparation.

    • Ruth Barton on November 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      We use the Revised Common Lectionary which, I think, is the most frequently used around the world. I agree that it could work really well for you to preach on the Scriptures your church has assigned and then use these for your own private worhship. A blessing in disguise!

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