The Theme of Advent
For many years, I have led a Bible study on Tuesdays at lunch time. This is an open group. Anyone is invited to come. I have several “regulars” and we often have visitors. In the past few months, the number of people coming has grown, which has been encouraging. We usually read and discuss a book of the Bible verse by verse.
As Advent was about to begin, I suggested we study Colossians. I said I thought that Colossians has a natural Advent theme. Today one of my regulars asked me a great question. She asked “why this book?” We’ve been reading it and studying it for a few weeks. What does this book have to say about Advent?
That was a great question, and one I had failed to address! I responded, and thought that this might make a good Advent meditation for all of us.
Colossians 1:13 says “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Compare that to the Collect for this week. “Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.”
Without Christ, we live under in the domain of darkness. As the Book of Colossians goes on, we see that this domain is multi-layered. We live under the dominion of Caesar, a false king. We live under the rule of the natural forces of the world. We live under philosophies and ideas; even the Law itself. We constantly have to prove ourselves to our rulers, whether they be good rulers (moral laws) or bad rulers (Caesar).
Christ didn’t come to destroy these rulers. Instead, he came to rescue us from their domination. He transferred us out of their authority and into his glorious kingdom. Do governments and natural rules and philosophies and moral codes still exist? Yes, of course. Are they sometimes good and helpful? Certainly? Do we now live under their control, seeking to do their will so as to acceptable to God? No, not at all.
This is the theme of Advent: the King is coming. He is not one of many kings, one of many rulers. He is the sole King, the only legitimate ruler. In his great might he comes among us. He rescues us from our sin. He even rescues us from our own self-righteousness.
Are we then free to act however we please? No, we are called to do right, to live good and godly lives. But how we act is not longer the foundation of who we are. Our identity is not found in my good or bad behavior. It is found in the triumph of Jesus on the cross.
When I do good, I belong to Jesus. When I sin, I belong to Jesus. When I disappoint someone, I still belong to Jesus. When they disappoint me, I still belong to Jesus. The King is coming, and has come. He is Lord of all whether we recognize him or not. Advent is, in part, about recognizing him.