My favorite part of this whole passage is verse 14 when John gives us the reason for everything up until this point: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Everything accumulates with Jesus taking on flesh and dwelling among us. This is the incarnation. This is the great in-fleshment.
Hezekiah was on of the best kings of Judah. He led Judah in following God and strengthening the nation. He also celebrated one of the largest Passover celebrations ever.
The purpose of Advent is to help us prepare for the arrival of Jesus. We often think that is for the arrival to celebrate His birth which occurred two thousand years ago, but it is also and more so to prepare for His second arrival, the second coming.
But Peter doesn’t say we have to have all of these characteristics right away. Instead, he just says to “add to” them. Start with your faith, then add goodness. Once you have goodness, add knowledge. Once you have knowledge, add self-control, and so forth. But if we don’t, if we struggle with this, that’s okay, because all we are supposed to do is make every effort. Peter knows that developing these characteristics can be difficult, after all, he was the impulsive disciple who struggled at self-control.
There are some texts which are read through out the time of Advent to help us prepare for the birth of Christ. They act like road maps on an ADVENTure which leads us to the manger. Notably these texts are found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke as well as in the prophetic writings of Isaiah. But the reality is that all of our texts, all of our books can lead us to the manger. Some texts are direct routes where others are a bit of a detour.
Do you ever wonder or think about why you are doing what you are doing? Have you ever finished or completed something and wondered why you went through it?
While the Bible is the word of God, the story of redemption for His people, and a place from which we can glean truth, the Bible has also been a tool used by evil men to abuse, suppress, and oppress people. It is used to keep women in submission and out of church ministry; to keep people poor and destitute; and to keep people in slavery.
In the tradition I was baptized, the customary baptismal formula are “buried with Christ, and raised to new life.” These words come from Romans 6:4: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” These are true words. When we are baptized, we die to our old selves. But we do not stay dead. While we have yet to receive our resurrection from the dead, we do receive a newness of live, as the old is gone.
In the years following Jesus’ ascension, as the little band of disciples grew into a powerful movement of “the Church,” issues revolving around right doctrine (orthodoxy) and right practice (orthopraxy) were all the talk. And it has been the same ever since. The epistle to the Colossians is one of the most theological letters in the New Testament, especially considering it’s brevity.
Compared to Christianity, Judaism, in particular, Old Testament Judaism, is a very physical faith. Just read through the Old Testament Law in Leviticus and Numbers and see how many “things” are to be physically done. Sacrifices. Offerings. Feasts. Festivals. Judaism in the Old Testament was so physical, so worldly, that one of their yearly festivals involved spending a week in tents to remember their forty years wandering in the desert.