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Spectrum Blog Liturgy: Justice for all

Happy Sabbath!

The second week of Advent. The service today centers on the prophetic idea of justice and what distracts humanity from community.

Opening Prayer

A Ceremony of Carols (op. 28) is a piece by Benjamin Britten

St. Paul’s Choir

Scripture reading

Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1–12

A textual commentary from Nora Gallager :

Here we are in Advent. The Advent season is a time of longing, of expectation, of hope for the long-awaited fulfillment of a promise. In the Advent season, we wait for the moment when heaven touches earth. That image, for some of us, is of heaven coming down from above. For others, it’s of heaven rising up, infusing our tired world with new life. The Celts called this moment—when heaven meets earth—thin space. In this season, we practice to breathe in thin space, to live in longing, to make a pathway for heaven into our hearts. In this second week of Advent, we ponder a man crying out in the wilderness.

Each of us probably has an image of wilderness. My own is of the Brazos Wilderness in Northern New Mexico where I went as a ten-year-old child. A friend of my mother’s took four children on a pack trip, on horseback, with a Native American guide from the Taos Pueblo. It was the first time I’d been away from my mother for more than a few nights. My image of wilderness will always be that trip. It was a place of beauty and terror, of tests of courage. I learned to ride a young horse, and when that horse decided to lie down in a stream, I learned how to jump off. I learned that I had to stand up for myself against the teasing of an older boy. There were no houses and we had no maps. Sometimes the aspen trees grew so thickly together we had to put our feet up on our saddle horns. At night, the stars in the sky seemed as close as my hands, and Frank, our guide, used to sing to them in the language of his ancestors.

Wilderness. A place where there are no houses and no maps. A place of beauty and tests of courage. A place where your guide may be someone entirely different from what you expected.

Another kind of wilderness. This one in Santa Barbara, a soup kitchen where I worked for four years, housed in my church’s parish hall. We made the soup out of discarded vegetables given to us by the produce manager of a local Vons grocery store. On this salvage, we fed up to 250 people a day.


When I thought about “preparing the way,” what came into my mind was sweeping the path outside my study door. I rarely do this. Usually I’m running from one thing to the next with barely enough time to even notice the path, least of all what is on it. But when I do sweep the path, first of all, I slow down. I like to sweep. I like watching the pathway clear, the bricks emerge. Sometimes I remember watching the friend who built the path lay down the bricks on the sand. Esther de Waal, a historian of Celtic spirituality, says that one of the gifts of Celtic life was that “it was a practice in which ordinary people in their daily lives took the tasks that lay to hand but treated them sacramentally, as pointing to a greater reality which lay beyond them. It is an approach to life which we have been in danger of losing, this sense of allowing the extraordinary to break in on the ordinary.”

Special music

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy — Television.


A sermon from the National Action Network


Offer your time to learn new ideas of what Provoke means.


Just Christmas soon.


Civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind, independent of the prevalent one among the crowds, and in opposition to it — a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the end determine its character. Only an ethical movement can rescue us from barbarism, and the ethical comes into existence only in individuals.

— Albert Schweitzer

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