Sunday, December 06, 2015

Advent 2015 December 7

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Several years ago I bought a copy of the Book of Common Prayer (the Church of England version).  I am not entirely sure why and have only read it occasionally over the years.  It is part of my desire to understand the various flavors (or franchises, as Garrison Keillor called them) of the church, especially those of long tradition.

So for December 6, I would have expected something about Advent.  Not so much.  It quoted the verse in I Timothy about praying for all men, especially those in governmental power, and that prayer and reflection went along those lines.

Not to make a lame connection, but respect for governmental authorities are part and parcel of the Advent.  Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem out of obedience to Rome.  He went to that particular city out of obedience to his tradition (house and lineage of David). He went in obedience to the voice of God, taking Mary whom he could have divorced and shamed.

Christian tradition teaches that obedience to the government is a form of obedience to God, until it is no longer possible.  God’s sovereignty is at work in governments and civic authorities in the long run, although we usually struggle to figure out in the short run how this scenario works. (I myself being one of the worst to comment on the sometimes insanity we call the federal government.)  In Advent, the Roman emperor unwittingly carried out obedience to God’s plan by requiring a tax census that sent Joseph and Mary to a specific place to fulfill prophecy. 

So perhaps the Book of Common Prayer’s choice for December 6 is not so odd after all.  Perhaps every teaching of scripture is inherent in the Advent season; perhaps Advent is a microcosm of the Word.

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