Advent’s Great Expectations
December 2, 9, 16, 9:45am, Room 218
with Rev. John E. Miller, Ph.D. (retired rector, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, River Road)
For three Sundays this Advent we will consider Biblical roots of messianic hope, as well as theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s views concerning Jesus’ radical reinterpretation of the role of the Messiah.
Advent is the season of expectancy, a time when the Church’s focus is fixed upon hope. Advent literally means “coming to” (from the Latin ad+venire), the “approach” of the Messiah. For the four weeks preceding Christmas Day, Christians recall in Scripture and celebrate with hymns Israel’s longing for messianic redemption, as well as the extraordinarily humble birth of Jesus, whom the Church hails as the Messiah.
Although the Nativity stories signal his singular significance with a heavenly host of angels and the adoration of the Magi, the compassionate ministry of Jesus would reflect that lowly origin, and would disappoint those who expected a militant strongman for their messianic king. The tension between human expectation and Jesus’ divine servanthood would lead to his Passion.