web analytics
Advent 2

Resources – Advent 2 – 10 December 2023

Advent 2

Let us pray (in silence) [that our way is prepared for God’s swift coming]

Stir up your power, O Lord,                  [or Stir up your power, O God,]
and with your great might
come to our aid,
so that where our sins impede us,
the help of your grace may swiftly deliver us,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

This is my reworking of the Sarum missal collect that has been with us since at least the Gelasian Sacramentary – over thirteen centuries:

Excita, quæsumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiæ tuæ quod nostra peccata præpediunt, indulgentia tuæ propitiationis acceleret. Qui vivis.

It is a prayer shared by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and others. Advent 2 Sunday focuses on John the Baptist, making straight paths, preparing the way, remembering the first Advent, anticipating the second Advent – all this is wrapped up in the above collect, just as SO much is embodied in the little Child we await(ed). If you want to unwrap some of this, check out my commentary on this prayer or below.

This collect forms part of my ongoing project The Book of Prayers in Common.

Lectionary Readings Introduction

This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways. This is an experimental venture and I will see how useful it appears.

Isaiah 40:1-11

Isaiah chapters 40 to 55 forms a very coherent unit, normally referred to as “Second Isaiah”, “Deutero-Isaiah”, or “the Book of Consolation”. It addresses the people living in exile in Babylon. Cyrus (44:28; 45:1) has dethroned Astyages (550BCE) and possibly already defeated Croesus (547BCE). Today’s reading has been seen as a cantata for several voices echoing the call of the eighth century Isaiah (Isaiah 6). The second exodus about to occur also echoes the one from Egypt. The images presuppose the cragged, mountainous deserts of the Middle East. The text is dated between 545 and 539BCE.

2 Peter 3:8-15a

This letter has much in common with Jude. It may be the last book of the scriptures to be written. It was certainly the last to be accepted into the New Testament canon. Its dating after the death of Peter is made probable by the delay of the Day of the Lord – a realisation which grew after the destruction of Jerusalem (70CE). Most date this letter to around the turn of the century. The practice of writing pseudonymously (in the name of a great figure already dead) was accepted practice. The style is that of a farewell address, a last will and testament.

Mark 1:1-8

Today we begin the gospel which will be the primary thread in this liturgical year. Eusebius in Historia Ecclesiae II 16 quotes Papias (c 116CE):

“And John the presbyter also said this, Mark being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrote with great accuracy, but not, however, in the order in which it was spoken or done by our Lord, for he neither heard nor followed our Lord, but, as before said, was in company with Peter, who gave him such instruction as was necessary, but not to give a history of our Lord’s discourses. Wherefore Mark has not erred in any thing, by writing some things as he has recorded them; for he was carefully attentive to one thing, not to pass by any thing that he heard, or to state any thing falsely in these accounts.”

Papias was the bishop of Hierapolis (close to Laodicea and Colossae; in the valley of the Lycus in Phrygia). St. Irenæus has Papias “a hearer of John, and companion of Polycarp, a man of old time.”

In verse 2-3 the author conflates Isaiah 40:3, Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1. Debt was a serious problem in first century Judea. 35-40% of agricultural production went in tax and if you did not pay, you lost your land. The landless would trie their hand at being artisans. Remission of debts is, hence, clearly good news. When one was referred to as a “son”, there was the sense that one had the qualities, the attributes of the father.

Today’s readings online

Reflection on the Collect

The Gelasian sacramentary has this, addressed to the Son, in the first propers for Advent (no. 1121). The Gregorian sacramentary alters it to address the Father. In the Gregorian it is a collect after what is provided for a winter ember vigil (no. 805). In the Gallican Bobbio missal it is the second prayer in the first of the three Masses for Advent (no. 38). The Sarum missal has it as the collect for the fourth Sunday in Advent:

Excita, quæsumus, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiæ tuæ quod nostra peccata præpediunt, indulgentia tuæ propitiationis acceleret. Qui vivis.

In the Sarum missal, collects for four of the five Sundays before Christmas all began “Excita” (Stir up; Raise up). The exception was the Third Sunday, associated with an Ember Week and Gaudete (“Rejoice”).

Thomas Cranmer translated it for the 1549 BCP:

LORDE rayse up (we pray the) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our synnes and wickednes, we be soore lette and hindred, thy bountifull grace and mercye, through the satisfaccion of thy sonne our Lord, may spedily deliver us; to whom with thee and the holy gost be honor and glory, worlde without ende.

“Lette” here means “obstructed”, and Cranmer added “among us” and “through the satisfaccion of thy sonne our Lord” to the original.

Cranmer retained the Sarum position, The Fourth Sunday in Advent. Common Worship (CofE) moved it to Advent 2; The Episcopal Church’s BCP has it for Advent 4; the Scottish Episcopal Church has it in Collects for Experimental Use for Advent 4; the Roman Rite has it for Thursday in Week 1 of Advent.

Præpediunt – something is placed before (prae) the foot (pes). Hence I like “impede” where the connection with the foot is still visible. The 1662 BCP revisers expanded this idea with

we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us

Praepes also means the opposite concept: flying straight ahead; nimble; fleet; winged.

succuro also has this element of movement – to run to the aid of.

So here we have images of movement tumbling over each other: veni come, succurre run to the aid of, præpediunt impeded in our steps, acceleret hasten.

There are echoes of Psalm 80:2 – “Stir up your might,and come to save us!” and Hebrews 12:1.

In Advent we celebrate God’s coming in humility, and anticipate God’s coming in power. In Advent, one focus is on John the Baptist, the messenger sent ahead to prepare the way, to make straight the paths, the paths on which movement is impeded by our sins.

Original, Southern Hemisphere Advent collects
An outline example and resources for an Advent Eucharist
Advent in the Southern Hemisphere

Advent penitence

O Antiphons chants


Resources beyond this site:
Resourcing Preaching Down Under
Girardian reflections on the lectionary

Do follow:

The Liturgy Facebook Page
The Liturgy Twitter Profile
The Liturgy Instagram 
and/or sign up to a not-too-often email

Similar Posts:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.