Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fifth Day of Advent: The Story of Our Life

If we were asked why our nation is a United States, given all our differences, we would probably try to explain what it means to be an American by telling our  unique history:  the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, the Civil War, the Bill of Rights, etc. 

A distinctive mark of the Jewish people is also a sense of history.  They have always been a scattered and diverse people —in culture and even in racial characteristics.  But, they are a people held together by a history, a story told and retold from generation to generation.  

Christians also have this historical sense.  While the Christian faith is culturally, socially, and theologically diverse, it is a distinctive community with a memory that reaches back to the events  to which the Old Testament (as Christians call it) gives witness. 

"No scorching heat or sun shall distress them;
for One who loves them shall lead them
and take them to water at bubbling springs."
The Old Testament is a record of the unique historical experiences of a particular people, Israel, from about 2000 B.C. to 150 B.C.   Judaism and Christianity may differ about the outcome of this historical drama, but they agree that the Old Testament is the “story of our life.”  Indeed, we are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.

Advent is a time to open ourselves to the new things about to happen, but we cannot do this if we do not know our own story.  No one really cares about ancient tribal laws or genealogies, but we ought to know how God acted in the past, so we can have some idea of how God might act in the here and now.  

“Now I show you new things,
    hidden things which you did not 
       know before.
They were not created long ago,
       but in this very hour;
you had never heard of them

       before today (Isaiah 48:6-7, NEB).”

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