Sunday, December 03, 2006
Blogging the prophets for Advent
... a.k.a. Or whatever it takes to resuscitate this blog and get me writing about anything.

Some suckers would have you believe that Christmas is all about one day, that being, December 25. Others might convince you that Advent is all about opening windows on a calendar. Take for instance, the "Advent Calendar" you may have seen me pitching if you ever came through the drive-thru at my coffeeshop. No mention of Jesus. None of Yahweh. But it does have 25 individually wrapped pieces of chocolate for every day in December leading up to the holiest day in the consumer village called "America." Sorry, that ain't Advent.

Advent, rather, is the four weeks leading to Christmas (that is, Christ's Mass) anticipating that Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us, is coming.

Thus, for Advent this year I am reading and writing the Twelve Prophets. Hosea. Joel. Amos. Obadiah. Jonah. Micah. Nahum. Habakkuk. Zephaniah. Haggai. Zechariah. Malachi.

Why the Twelve? For a number of reasons. Because Paul writes that "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." And when he writes "All scripture" he isn't refering to the letters to Timothy. Instead, he's talking about the Law, the Writings, and you guessed it, the Prophets. Ignore them, though we try, the Prophets are Yahweh-breathed Scripture that must be reckoned with.

Secondly, when Jesus is left to explain the meaning of the Resurrection to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus how does he do it? With the prophets. Somehow the resurrection of Jesus only makes sense in light of what's going on in the prophets. Thirdly, on the mount of transfiguration, according to the Gospel of Mark, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John are told from heaven to listen to Jesus. There they are--the Law, the Prophets, and the Apostles--all told to submit before Jesus. And so somehow the Prophets anticipate and listen to Jesus.

But I think mostly why I want to listen to the Prophets this Advent season is because of something Diane told me. Diane comes to Bible study every Sunday morning at church and we've been looking and Habbakuk and Amos over the last couple of months. As we've talked about the broad outlines of Israel's story--the victory of the Red Sea, the spiritual unfaithfulness, the wicked kings, the corrupt religion, the constant wars and upheaval, the exile--Diane keeps coming back to this idea that the Old Testament reminds us how much we, Israel, all of humanity, needed Jesus. Things are getting really desparate. And that's when God comes. And I think that's what Advent is all about--remembering how much we need Jesus.

I can remember in my church when I was a kid there being on the walls portrait illustrations of the twelve apostles--Peter, James, John and the rest of the gang. I think they were these lifelike representations with biographical info to make these characters come alive to the contemporary congregation. The twelve apostles may get all the attention in churches today, but interestingly, Scripture tells us much more about the speakerphones of the Almighty that are the Twelve Prophets.

I'm a busy guy. I really don't have time for this, honestly. Finals are a week away, and I have miles to go before I sleep. But you know what? This is what Advent is all about, Charlie Brown. The sun's light is at it's shortest this time of the year. But this is the time we celebrate God's coming. At our darkest moments, this is when God arrives. This is Advent. I need Scripture shaping my soul.

So join me, if you so desire, in this exercise in spiritual reading and journaling. Oh sure, it's intrusive and inconvenient. What we find may be weird and baffling and downright bizarre. But should we expect anything less from Scripture? That's why we call it a "discipline."

But more than anything, I'd bet the house, it makes us anticipate Jesus all the more.

posted by Peter at 12:40 AM
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