Over the past few years, I have become exasperatedly aware how Big the Bible is. I’ve read it all my life—I don’t know how many times. I’ve even read the New Testament in Greek.
The Holy Book is HUGE—containing 66 smaller books, some of them not-so-short. Some texts are enigmatic. All are written in languages foreign to me. Some of the Bible is fiction—that’s what a parable is. Paul even resorts to sarcasm. There is no end to conversations and debates about the Bible.
Three years, at least, is how long a pastor needs to preach through the Bible, and that requires skipping a lot of texts. A sermon based on a passage from II Chronicles gets the same attention as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. For me, that’s a problem. I’m a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m not a Davidian and certainly not a Branch Davidian. Some are. I’m not. I read the entire Bible. I value the entire Bible. But I’m a Jesus guy.
Twelve Step groups read each step at every meeting, focusing on a different step each week. When the group finishes the Twelve Steps, they start over and go through them again.
Not so in Sunday school or sermons. If we limited ourselves to a single Bible book each week, we’d need sixty-six weeks to skim through the Bible once. We’d spend only one Sunday, for example, on Matthew—to learn about …
The birth of Jesus
The visit of the Wise men
The preaching of John the Baptist
The Sermon on the Mount
The Lord’s Prayer
The healing of a leper, etc. etc. etc.
That’s an impossible task.
The Gift of Advent is that for four weeks, every year, we focus on …
Year in and year out, approaching Christmas, we are reminded that these attributes are important. No need to ignore salvation, grace, justice, or the Ten Commandments, but at least once each year we will focus on Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Year after year. Over and over.