The Rector's Weekly Column

Rev. Victor H. Morgan


 

         "The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for me" are words from a little VBS ditty from my childhood. I have them running through my head as I look at the calendar and see Bible Sunday is almost here . . . Dec. 10 in this year's calendar.

         By way of background, the observance of Bible Sunday – sometimes called Universal Bible Sunday – was begun by the Bible societies of North America and Britain and is observed each year on the Second Sunday in Advent.

         Advent refers the four-week season leading up to Christmas. The focus of this season is the two comings of Christ, His first coming as a baby 2000 years ago and His future coming as King of kings and Lord of lords at the end of the age.

         The message of Advent is preparation. As the season opens, the cry goes up: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

         Focusing on the Bible in this season fits neatly with the larger theme of Advent. It works like this: just as people of old time were prepared for the coming of the Messiah through the reading and study of the Scriptures (in their case our Old Testament); just so, we today are prepared and made ready for His Second Coming by the same means – through the reading and study of the Scriptures.

         The apostle Paul makes a similar point when he writes: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

         The Bible does indeed give us hope. It reminds us that history is not a mass of miscellaneous dates and events, but is actually going somewhere . . . that God has a plan, and that plan is being worked with each passing day, week and year . . . that a new order is waiting in the wings and will be revealed fully at Jesus’ Second Coming.

         Unfortunately some readers of the Bible miss the big picture. They do so, at least partially, because they get so caught up in the stories that they never get to the Story.

         Think about the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Each is important, and some may even contain interesting colours and patterns. Even so, the full glory of the puzzle is revealed only when the pieces are put together. So it is with the stories of the Bible. We dare not leave the pieces spread on the table.

         As we seek to do this, it might be helpful to think of the Bible as a play with five acts. In Act 1 God creates the world good. In Act 2, something muddles things up. A roadblock is placed in front of God’s creation project which must be removed before God's plan can go forward, in Christian parlance this is called human sinfulness.

         In Act 3, God begins such a project when He calls a particular family – the family of Abraham – to be means whereby He will put the world – His human creatures included – to rights. The drama then arrives at its great new moment with the coming of one particular member of Abraham’s family – Jesus the Messiah. He takes the world’s pain and sin upon Himself and exhausts it on the cross and in so doing makes a new beginning for the human race. This is Act 4.

         You and I are now living in this fourth act. God’s future has burst into the present, and we – if we have been united to the true King in faith and baptism – are part of this future. We, moreover, have a part to play in the present. We are to announce Jesus and be outposts of the Kingdom until the King returns.

         Act 5 begins when Jesus is revealed. At that time, the roadblock placed in front of God’s creation project in Genesis will be removed. God will wipe away all tears, and death itself will be no more (Revelation 21:4). Hope lost will be hope regained.

         Let’s not be part smart; let’s read the Bible for all its worth . . . in Advent and throughout the year.

         Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us to our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. (Collect for Second Sunday in Advent).


The Rev. Victor H. Morgan is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Blue Ridge.


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