Thursday, December 2, 2010

PREMATURE FROLICKING

3rd in the "Unsettling Advent" series: William Stringfellow reminds us the theme of Advent is repentance—personally and collectively

FROLICKING IS NOT REJOICING.  William Stringfellow writes of Advent: “There is, I notice, a lot of holiday frolicking, but that is not the same as rejoicing.  In any case, maybe outbursts of either frolicking or rejoicing are premature, if John the Baptist has credibility.  He identifies repentance as the message and sentiment of Advent."

NOT JUST PERSONAL REPENTANCE.  "In context, in the biblical accounts, the repentance of which John the Baptist preaches is no private or individualistic effort, but the disposition of a person is related to the reconciliation of the whole of creation.  'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Matthew 3 and Luke 3)

PRODUCE THE FRUIT OF REPENTANCE.  "The pioneer Christians...knew that the message of both Advents is political.  That message is that in the coming of Jesus Christ, the nations and the principalities and the rulers of the world are judged in the Word of God.  In the lordship of Christ they are rendered accountable to human life and, indeed, to all created life.  Hence, the response of John the Baptist when he is pressed to show the meaning of the repentance he preaches is, 'Bear fruits that befit repentance.'"

INVITATION TO REPENTANCE.  Let not William Stringfellow's words douse what mild lightheartedness we may muster in anticipation of Christmas.  Instead, may his effort to point to the Word of God overwhelm us.  Let's not allow ourselves to waltz through Advent and into Christmas without falling before God in true repentance.  And then, ever repentant and cleaving to the living Word of God, bear joyfully the burden of an unrepentant church, nation, and world in our hearts and through our prayers, words, and actions.

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