as Advent begins …

Yesterday was the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which makes it the first Sunday of Advent (and so the first day of the Church year).

I’ve never really done Advent devotionals before – I don’t remember Advent being observed at all in the church in NZ that we used to go to, nor in the first church I attended with my family over here. After that one, I started going to Anglican churches … and this was when I started to get a little bit of a feel for the rhythms of the Church year and to learn about the traditions of the Anglican Church. Learning about these things has been interesting, and has helped me to grow.

This year, for what I think is the first time, I am going to be doing special readings for advent. I went out this morning to buy the book I wanted: “Beginning and Endings [and what happens in between]” by Maggi Dawn. Maggi is an Anglican Priest, currently a Chaplain and Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge – and a really fantastic woman (I’ve met her a couple of times) :).

The readings start from 1st Dec, so I have a couple of days to wait. But I’ve read the introduction, and this bit stood out to me and I want to share it with you:

“The Bible is neither a scientific manual nor a magical book of fortune-telling. It does not aim to explain science or to predict the future; rather, it gives us stories, histories, songs, experience and spiritual meditations to aid us as we make sense of the lives we live and the world we inhabit.”

I’ve heard so many awful descriptions of the Bible – “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” being a memorable one (it’s a Burlap to Cashmere song that we had on a compilation CD …), “a textbook” being another, “an instruction manual” being another. The Bible is manifestly not any of those things.

The quotation above is the best statement of what the Bible is that I’ve yet come across. It made me happy 🙂 and I’m looking forward to the readings, which run from 1st Dec to 6th January (Epiphany).

Are you doing anything special for Advent, or for any other winter festivals?

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4 Responses to as Advent begins …

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Bible is the Word of God full of Grace and Truth and Power.

  2. thecandiedmango says:

    I’ve never done anything extra for Advent; I subscribe to a different area of Christianity so that might be part of it, but I think it’s mostly that my family never did anything different while I was growing up.

    I really like that quote, though. I’ve never heard anyone describe the Bible as anything but pure fact OR complete nonsense, so it’s nice to see someone describe it in a way that makes sense (to me, anyway).

  3. About the Bible being full of Grace and Truth and Power – well, I think so, yes. But this isn’t a sufficient description of the text, and it brings with it lots of problems … like: in what way is Joshua’s slaughter of men, women and children full of grace, truth and power? Perhaps power …

    In the Bible God is sometimes gracious – but not necessarily consistently (e.g. when he stops Moses in the desert and is about to kill him until Moses’ wife circumcises their son and touches Moses with the foreskin … one of the episodes in the life of Moses that tends to be skipped over). I guess he’s consistently powerful.

    I belive that the Bible is God-inspired and useful for our instruction and contains a lot of mercy / power / grace / truth / etc, but I think if you only say this then you run the risk of watering down a lot of the stuff in there – e.g. ignoring the bits of the Old Testament that are a bit crazy and seem inexplicable.

    thecandiedmango – that’s why I like how she puts it too 🙂 and I find it encouraging that someone who is a priest and an academic thinks of the Bible in this way, because that gives me confidence that this sort of description is consistent and reasonable.

  4. Pingback: Advent | Eudoxia Friday : Thoughtful Eclecticism

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