This is the introduction to a three-part series of gospel reflections in preparation for Advent. Read each week's reflections as indicated below.

photo courtesy of kthread via C.C. license at FlickrNobody would watch my cooking show if I had one. Who wants to suffer through real time with me, accompanying me to the grocery store, walking up and down the bean aisle with me while I compare the sodium contents on the back labels, then visit the meat department where I agonize over what kind of ground beef to buy? Once we get back home, who wants to watch for 20 minutes as I rifle through my kitchen junk drawer looking for a whisk? Who wants to watch as I cut up three onions, taking breaks to cry into the sink and search for a Band-Aid to staunch the bleeding from the end of my finger I almost chopped onto the cutting board?

If I'm going to have a cooking show in which I demonstrate how a delicious recipe is prepared, I had better do some preparation for my preparation first. I'd better make sure all the ingredients are out on the countertop ready to go when the cameras roll.

Advent begins in three short weeks on November 28. During this season of the Church Year, we prepare for the coming of the King. What kind of preparation do we need to make to be ready for Advent? What ingredients do we need to have all ready to go, set out on the countertop in bowls wrapped in Saran Wrap, all prepped and chopped?

I suggest a three-part series, called "Gathering the Ingredients: Preparing for Advent," which will follow the lectionary texts from Luke's Gospel for each week. Click on each week for sermon preparation based on the gospel reading.

Week One, November 7: Luke 20:27-38 (questions about the resurrection) helps us prepare by asking the question: What is he coming to bring?

Week Two, November 14: Luke 21:5-19 (signs and persecutions that signal the last days) helps us prepare by asking what obstacles lie in his way?

Week Three, November 21: Luke 23:33-43 (the thief on the cross) helps us prepare by asking, "How will we recognize him when he arrives?

The premise of the series is that, to prepare for Advent, we need to know what gift Jesus is bringing us. We need to know what obstacles we face in our reception of his gift. And we need to know how we will recognize him when he arrives. If I were using object lessons for adults I'd put a wrapped gift up in front of the altar for November 7, a big orange traffic cone to symbolize obstacles for November 14, and a pair of glasses to stand for vision for November 21.