Spectrum Blog Liturgy: The shopocalypse is nigh

Happy Sabbath! Welcome to the Spectrum Blog Liturgy, something I created as an excuse to combine some good music with Adventism's ultimate concerns. If you do stay for the service below, feel free to drop a comment about your week and what's on your mind.

The beginning of Advent. The service today centers on the the apocalypse and how humanity confronts our always, already present end.

Opening Prayer Michael Franti and Spearhead: Time To Go Home

Scripture reading Isaiah 2:1-5 Ps 122 Rom 13:11-14 Matt 24:36-44

A textual commentary from Process and Faith:

The season of Advent is a time of preparation for the coming (Latin adventus) of Christ. We usually think of this as preparing for the church’s remembrance of the coming of Christ in the birth of Jesus, celebrated in the feast of Christmas. But another ancient theme in the Advent season is preparing for the coming of Christ at the end of time, the “second” coming in which this created order will be deconstructed and reconstructed into the realized Reign of God. The lectionary for Advent therefore begins with the End, as the readings for this day draw from the apocalyptic literature of the scriptures.

Apocalyptic literature poses something of a problem for progressive Christians and Whiteheadian process-influenced thinkers. In Northern American popular religion these days, apocalyptic seems almost entirely the property of conservative and literalistic interpreters of scripture, who take diverse texts and attempt to assemble out of them a coherent “Biblical prophecy” narrative which gives a detailed timetable for the End of the World; but this assemblage ends up doing violence to the texts themselves by wrenching them out of context and taking them more literally than their original authors intended. In addition, Whiteheadian cosmology tends to eschew the idea of an “end of time” or single moment of experience which will both fulfill and terminate the creative advance into novelty. These tendencies, taken together, lead many progressive and processive Christians to treat apocalyptic literature as something which must be demythologized. Yet such demythologizing can easily become dismissive, treating apocalyptic either as so hopelessly mythological that we today cannot learn anything of value from it, or as a source of generally utopian ideals which can best serve our present needs by encouraging our contemporary struggles for liberation.

In engaging these readings for the First Sunday of Advent, therefore, I attempt to take these passages “seriously but not literally”; that is, I do not treat them as a literal calendar for the End, but neither do I attempt to “explain them away” as mere mythology. Interpreted within a framework which views the world as a continually co-creative advance by God and by creatures toward an ever-fuller embodiment of divine ideals for richness of experience, how do today’s readings point us toward a future of hope?

Special music Antony And The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone


The Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping

Offering Give locally.

Annoucements Next week we'll be talking about justice.


"Last, but not least, there is a need for audacious hope. And it's not optimism. I'm in no way an optimist. I've been black in America for 39 years. No ground for optimism here, given the progress and regress and three steps forward and four steps backward. Optimism is a notion that there's sufficient evidence that would allow us to infer that if we keep doing what we're doing, things will get better. I don't believe that. I'm a prisoner of hope, that's something else. Cutting against the grain, against the evidence. William James said it so well in that grand and masterful essay of his of 1879 called "The Sentiment of Rationality," where he talked about faith being the courage to act when doubt is warranted. And that's what I'm talking about."

-- Cornel West, from the 1993 commencement speech at Wesleyan University

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/157