A Gift of Advent

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 Beatitudes

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 …

Hope

Peace

Joy

Love.

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.

Hope

Peace

Joy

Love.

Categories: Book Review, Faith/Spirituality, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “A Gift of Advent

  1. This past year the church failed to relate discipleship to democracy and undermined its legitimacy as a means of saving us from ourselves. Most of my friends and neighbors–all white “Christians”–made Donald Trump our president. There are still a minority of struggling disciples in the church and a few leaders like Rev. Dr. Russell Moore who relate discipleship to democracy, but I’m afraid the church has failed to be an instrument of God’s will in our politics, so that it is as dead as a body without the spirit (James 2:26).
    I don’t think conventional Bible study will restore the spiritual life or relevance of the church. It will take a spiritual revival unlike any other that emphasizes the stewardship of democracy to discipleship.
    Thanks for your thoughtful commentary.
    Blessings and Peace,
    Rudy Barnes, Jr.

  2. I, too, am a Jesus guy. I feel far too much time is spent preaching from the Old Testament to Christians. So many church attendees don’t understand the Gospel because of this.

    • I like the Old Testament, but it is supplemental material. It can help, but let’s keep trying to figure out what Jesus had to say. Same with the letters of the New Testament. They are helpful, but supplementary. They can help us, but I’d like to figure out some scheme where the church can focus on Jesus. Hope, Peace, Joy, Love is a start. Now, for the other 48 weeks.

  3. Sherry Bomar

    I’m sorry Marion, but I must take exception to your friend, Rudy’s comment. If voting for Donald Trump negates my Christianity or discipleship, I suppose that leaves the Hillary voters as the pious ones. It seems to me in reading the Bible, we have read that God used flawed men to lead Isreal to great things–in fact, one of the worst was David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

    No, I did not vote for Trump in the primary, but given the choice, I had none in the general election. But I will pray for him like I have prayed for no other president in my life, and I challenge all Christians everywhere to pray for him, our country and the world. Then perhaps we can know, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

    Happy New Year!
    Sherry

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