Advent Reflections …

I heard recently from Charles Dean at Imago Dei church in Peoria, IL. He explained they were using ideas from Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed (in “The Liturgical Challenge” chapters) to inform their advent planning this year. Here’s what they’ve been working on:

To start with, we titled the Advent series “Prince of Shalom” – because I think to our modern ears, peace just means “not war,” and we miss the grand scale of “the redemption of all things.” So, in setting up the series I used the passage from Joel where God promises, “I will put back the years that the locusts have taken,” as a metaphor for God’s redemptive act in ALL of creation – that God wants to put EVERYTHING back to rights – that’s SHALOM.
So far, here’s what it’s looked like:
Week One: Christ: Galatians 3:23-29 – talked about Jewish Messianic expectations/hopes. talked about how it seems that Paul is waking up, and discovering all the ways in which Jesus really is Messiah – and how rabbi Paul sees in Jesus the fulfillment of the Abrahamic blessing – this is NOT plan B!
Week Two: Lord: Philippians 2:5-11: We looked at a Roman gospel about Caesar Augusts – then we considered how Paul co-opted the gospel format and applied it to Jesus – so in the kenosis passage – the crescendo of that early church hymn is that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! (subtext: NOT Caesar)
Week Three: Lamb of God: this in some ways is the tough one, because it’s not used as frequently as the others. I think I’m going to use John’s account of John the Baptist when he sees Jesus. I don’t have a lot of teaching time this week (children’s musical!) – but I think I’m going to try to go after our ideas about “cute, cuddly lambs” and try to get to a more Jewish idea of what the lamb was all about… I think then, this will get me to some Christus Victor ideas.
Week Four: Word of God – I want to address our misconceptions of God – and how Jesus forces us to rethink – where we thought God was violent, petty, jealous, ethnocentric, etc. – Jesus reveals the peaceful nature of the all-inclusive God. I haven’t worked on this one much yet… next week!

Thanks, Charles!