Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Church and Politics and...Advent?

Today is election day, November 4th. By the time most of us go to bed tonight, we should know who America's next President will be. Whether you cast your ballot for Senator Obama, or McCain, your participation in the civil realm is pleasing in God's sight.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a pre-Advent preaching conference. This was a conference in which we would study the Old Testament readings for the season of Advent, with an eye toward preaching them during Advent, maybe even in a sermon series. The guest presenter was Dr. Tim Saleska, OT Professor at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and we were all hoping that he would give us one of those catchy titles to be used as a theme for our midweek advent services. You know the kind: "Attributes for Advent--Faith, Hope, and Love," or "The Prophecies of Christ." Imagine our surprise when he dropped the following title on us, as a suggested theme for an advent sermon series: Church Politics.

Now, don't get me wrong, I could certainly see why this title might have been suggested. Certainly the events of this day (election day) would still be on the minds of our parishioners in December, as the inauguration of our next president would still be forthcoming. And if a provocative title was our desire, this would certainly qualify, but I must confess, I was a little apprehensive about this suggested Advent theme.

What did the anticipation of the incarnation have to do with Church Politics? Was the baby Jesus coming to save us from the result of this country's election? How would a series entitled Church Politics lend itself to preaching Christ? Was the birth of Christ some sort of divine power play?

Without putting all my cards on the table, allow me to put aside any fear that Mt. Calvary will be kicking off its Christian Zionist movement beginning in December. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Yes, the title is provocative. But even more than that, it's ingenious--and I'm excited!

Too often we associate the word politics with self interests and power plays, and as a result, we are leery of politics making their way into the church. But as William Willimon points out in Shaped by the Bible, "the Bible is "political" in the classic sense of the word politics--the forming of a polis (city), the constitution of a people through a discussion of what needs are worth having, what goals are good."

So, I have chosen to use Church Politics as the theme for Mt. Calvary's midweek Advent services this year. And I invite those of you in the San Antonio area to join us on Wednesday evenings, beginning December 3rd, @ 7:00 p.m., as we explore how God's Word shapes, and forms the church as a people, a community, of anticipation during this Advent season. And those of you reading from afar, don't forget to check out our website where all of our services will streamed live, and then later archived for your convenience (http://www.mtcsa.org/).

May we be formed as God's flock of faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit as the Incarnate Word of God--Jesus Christ--is proclaimed!

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