“Advent,” says Fleming Rutledge, “is definitely not for sissies.” As the midnight of the Christian year, Advent is rife with dark, gritty realities. In this book Rutledge spotlights the rich significance of the Advent season not just as transitional but as vibrant and profound in its own right.
With her trademark wit and wisdom, Rutledge explores Advent as a time of such paradoxes as waiting and hastening, suffering and hope, justice and mercy, now and not-yet. Showing how Advent at once celebrates Christ’s incarnation and his second coming, Rutledge masterfully unfolds the ethical and eschatological implications of this special season.
With her trademark eloquence and theological rigor, Episcopal priest Rutledge (The Crucifixion) reflects on the liturgical season of Advent, challenging the conventional interpretation of Advent as preparation for Christmas.... Rutledge intends this book as a “valedictory message to serious young preachers,” and it will also appeal to anyone looking for challenging, insightful, and inspiring sermons that wrestle with the grim reality of suffering and “the problem of evil” while also offering hope.
Fleming Rutledge’s Advent preaching bursts upon us with the same elemental force as the preaching of John the Baptist. Rutledge’s fine crafting of language may be subtler than John’s, but she carries forward his incisive, apocalyptic message of judgment and hope. This is essential preaching for a church wallowing in self-referential sentimentality and caught in captivity to the compromises of the present political order. This is preaching that tells the truth about the world’s suffering and proclaims that God acts to rescue us. Do not drift anesthetized through another season of Advent; read this book.
—Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, Duke University
My not-so-secret hope is that Fleming Rutledge’s Advent would become required reading in our seminaries and the focus of vestry book clubs, elder retreats, and worship leader workshops. Because that would give me hope for an apocalyptic renewal in the church—that we would learn again how to live as an Advent people, hoping in a God who acts and is making all things new. Taking this book to heart would teach us how to live wisely, faithfully, and prophetically in the Time Between
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