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Advent, says Fleming Rutledge, is not for the faint of heart. As the midnight of the Christian year, the season of Advent is rife with dark, gritty realities. In this book, with her trademark wit and wisdom, Rutledge explores Advent as a time of rich paradoxes, a season celebrating at once Christ’s incarnation and his second coming, and she masterfully unfolds the ethical and future-oriented significance of Advent for the church.
Fleming Rutledge is an Episcopal priest, a best-selling author, and an acclaimed preacher. Her book The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ won Christianity Today's 2017 Book of the Year Award.
Richard B. Hays
— Duke University
“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.”
Eugene Taylor Sutton
— Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
“When it comes to preparing a congregation to observe the Christian season of Advent, no one should enter a pulpit, prepare worship, or teach a class without first reading this book. Biblically grounded, theologically centered, homiletically effective, and spiritually uplifting, this collection of writings and sermons by one of the church’s great preachers is a winner on every front.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“With her trademark eloquence and theological rigor, Rutledge 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.”
— author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies and What’s in a Phrase?
“Replete with rich, mature, vigorous theological reflections on Advent, this book is invigorating—edgy, intelligent, unflinching, and joyful in all it reclaims. A timely, lively prophetic word.”
— Baylor University
“Advent is the most complex of the church’s seasons, with its remembrance of God’s former mercies and its looking forward in trust in God’s promises. Fleming Rutledge’s wonderful sermons on Advent are more than individual gems (though they are that): collectively they provide a rich and full exploration of the season in all its manifold moods and themes. This book is the perfect companion to the beginning of any church year.”
James K. A. Smith
— Calvin College
“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.”
— Trinity School for Ministry
“Many of us in the American church are addicted to preaching that makes us, the hearers, into the heroes. We listen to sermons to receive advice—about how we can do better or we can try harder or we can be stronger in this or that aspect of Christian life. For all of us suffering this theological addiction, Rutledge’s Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ is the rehab program we need. God is the saving agent here, and God’s coming in Jesus Christ to dismiss our efforts at self-justification is the recurring theme. Reading this book liberates us to enjoy a new theological sobriety.”
Jo Bailey Wells
— Bishop of Dorking
“Fleming Rutledge has to be one of the most daring preachers I know. With moral courage and intellectual rigor she tackles challenging texts and nagging questions. She is unafraid to proclaim the truth that may hurt—because that same truth sets us free. I have squirmed, yet I am stretched—to deeper faith, to higher hope, to broader love.”
Michael J. Gorman
— St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore
“Whatever you previously thought or said about Advent (and ‘pre-Advent’), this book will both challenge and deepen your understanding in ways never anticipated. For Fleming Rutledge, Advent is not merely preparation for Christmas, much less ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ It is, rather, the season of difficult yet hopeful watching, waiting, and participating—the season that encapsulates the Christian life between Christ’s first and second comings. Like Scripture itself, these are words to read and inwardly digest.”