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Our King and Saviour draweth nigh

December 13, 2011

Christianity is not a democratic religion. Recent liberal Protestantism seems determined that it should be, and if one’s understanding of Christianity comes from the history of religion school that dominates many seminaries, the popular press, and the popular media, one would think that the divinity of Christ and his messiahship were the results of a vote held at Nicaea in 325.

The traditional propers for the Advent Ember Days present a different view.* In the older Western lectionary it is on the third Sunday in Advent that our attention is turned from the last things, the coming of Christ at the end of the world, to the coming of Christ as Jesus of Nazareth with a Gospel from Matthew, and “our ministry” is put into that context with an epistle from 1 Corinthians. In contrast, there are no seasonal Ember Days propers in the newer lectionaries, and the emphasis has, not surprisingly, moved almost solely to the inclusive nature of the people of God and away from the exclusive sovereignty of God. (see, for example, the collects “for the ministry” and “for the mission of the church,” pp. 205-206, 256-257, Book of Common Prayer 1979.)

But still we have the Advent antiphon on Venite, “Our King and Saviour draweth nigh: O come let us adore him,” and this is the true context in which we live our lives and die our deaths.

It is easy to forget that the one whose coming we celebrate this season is not an elected official, but the absolute sovereign of the universe. True, we may elect to serve him or to oppose him. But either way, “He cometh, he cometh to judge the earth; and with righteousness to judge the world, and the peoples with his truth.”

Jesus insistently reminded us that no on can serve two masters. It is remarkable but not coincidental that at no other time of the year than Advent does Mammon make such enticing claims on us. So, these Advent Ember Days are a sober opportunity for each of us to consider whom he recognizes as king.

*These include Isaiah 2:2-5, Psalm 24, Isaiah 7:10-15, Luke 1:26-38, Psalm 119:151-152, Isaiah 9:1-5, Psalm 85, Luke 1:39-47, Psalm 53, Isaiah 19:20-22, Psalm 19, Isaiah 35:1-7, Isaiah 40:9-11, Isaiah 45:1-8, the Song of the Three Holy Children 26-30, Benedictus es, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, and Luke 5:1-6. One might notice that there is no lack of mention of the inclusion of all peoples in the kingdom of the Holy One.

Reposted from the defunct but excellent blog, neocappadocians.

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