Advent and the Art of Prophetic Speech

BY ED SLOANE | December 14, 2020
Sunday’s Readings – Third Sunday of Advent
Gaudete Sunday

Traditionally, the third week of Advent is an invitation to meditate on the theme of joy. With that in mind, this Sunday is often referred to as Gaudete Sunday, meaning rejoice. The hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” well expresses this invitation, so to get in the spirit I listened to the version by the seminal punk band Bad Religion.

Strange as it may seem, punk rock is a perfect entry point for this Sunday’s readings. Infamous for a sneering willingness to offend good taste and proper decorum, punk rock, to borrow again from Bad Religion, goes “against the grain.”

While punk is a diverse and complex social movement, its most enduring legacy is challenging unequal relations of power in society, drawing attention to unemployment, racism, and sexism through a do-it-yourself approach. Punk gave voice to hordes of disaffected youth who rejected the dominant culture and created critical and countercultural communities.

This week’s readings are thematically linked by a similar urgency and willingness to speak truth to power. Isaiah proclaims, “[God] has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” Likewise, this week’s Psalm, Mary’s Magnificat, reads, “[God] has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich [God] has sent away empty.”

Advent is not only a season of attentive waiting and anticipation but also a time for practicing the art of prophetic speech. Preparing the path of Christ means reflecting upon the times when we have failed to speak truth to power and noticing future opportunities to do so. Indeed, the joy of this third week of Advent is taking comfort in the conviction that God is with us when we question a racist relative or a homophobic pastor. Prophetic speech is joyful speech. It is an act of rejoicing, because through it we discover Emmanuel, God with us, in solidarity with all those crying out in the wilderness.

4 replies
    ANN WERNER says:

    I’m a place in life where much of who I am and what I treasure seems to be squandered. I don’t relate well to the political fracas, the covid restrictions want to displace a serenity I find in voluntarily stepping aside from inclusion in the day to day hustle so common at this time of year. The desert looks really inviting. Still, I can relate to the joyful anticipation of spiritual revelations that loom on the horizon or just under the surface of these many distractions. So I’ll just savor my coffee as I relax and pray.

  2. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Truth to power is the focus of today and all through Advent. Mary shows us this with courage and forthrightness. She doesn’t hesitate to go see her cousin, Elizabeth, so she will be not only be comforted but will be transformed. Mary shares what the angel said to her and transforms the life of Elizabeth as well as all of us. She brings us the knowledge of the Redeemer with joy!. We too need to share transformational information by speaking with respect to all. We need to bring out the gifts of each other and encourage them to use those gifts in service to one another so together we can transform the world. Mary, the peasant woman, transforms not only her life but the life of every believer for time to come. Come Lord Jesus, fill our hearts with the truth of your love.

  3. RJ Andes
    RJ Andes says:

    Music is good for the soul and certain genre’s will carry out certain messages to help even those that weren’t looking for help.

    When I was starting out in high school I was homophobic towards a small percentage of people but whilst playing football on the field it was way worse towards opposition players, has I got older there was actually a physical attack on my team mate at college after we found out it was because he was gay and he transfered to another college.

    Believe it or not this was the day I felt like I lost a family member and he was like a brother , the last time I spoke to him I was more angry and enraged he couldn’t tell me. Unfortunately he never even manage to finish college has he past away.

    This is one of my skeletons in my closet and it’s one of the hardest lessons that still hurts to this day, it’s not worth hating because someday it will affect you.

    Has for racism whilst we’re been honest, yes during my younger days I was towards Whites, Asians, Hispanic and Black Americans. Even the most innocent has laughed at a stereotypical joke, gave a dirty look or even a thought, everyone has done something that can be deemed racist so don’t pretend you have never done anything.

    I’m not judging anyone but every race on Earth can be Racist or Homophobic, hopefully these people can learn before it’s too late.

  4. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Every age is blessed with a fair sprinkling of prophets. They arrive, analyze the existing situations, voice the larger concerns of humanity and go. Their challenging message lives and grows in the hearts and minds of the exploited and the exploiters. Prophets sow seeds for future justice, reconciliation, solidarity, peace and harmony.


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