Way back, when I was in seminary, I studied Greek. While I continue to use it occasionally in sermon prep, I couldn’t tell you the alphabet by rote and I don’t remember many of the rules for conjugation. What I do remember are key details, things which help us understand a deeper meaning that isn’t present in the English translation, and more importantly, I remember how and where to look things up. One of the memories that floods back in occasionally has to do with prepositions and how they can mean many different things in Greek. For example, when we read of “faith in Christ” it could also mean “faith of Christ,” such that we are saved not by our own ability to put our trust in someone who lived, died, and rose again 2,000 years ago, but because of the faithfulness of that same person to live, die, and rise again.
This came flooding back into my consciousness this morning as I desperately looked for something new to write about. Now in our fourth (fifth? I’ve honestly lost count) week of apocalyptic parables and imagery, it seems difficult to find a new way to riff on Jesus’ command to “stay awake.” As I read the lesson from 1st Corinthians, I was drawn to this image of God being the faithful one who calls us into relationship.
As the Biblical story unfolds, there are a hundred or more places where God could have (should have?) given up on humanity. As the Eucharistic Prayer puts it, “again and again, you called us to return,” but due to our own pride and/or apathy, we have repeatedly failed to live into the dream of God. Sometimes, it was whole nations that failed. More often, it is the hearts of individuals who stray from the Kingdom of God. Yet, despite our ongoing resistance, God is faithful, inviting us back into relationship, and always ready to receive us into the arms of God’s saving embrace.
Advent seems like an appropriate time to spend sometime prayerfully considering the faithfulness of God. As we prepare ourselves for the gift of salvation, born on Christmas Day, it makes sense to focus less on what role we take in that salvation, and to be mindful that it is by God’s steadfast faithfulness that, in the fullness of time, the Son comes into the world. It can be hard, the whole “it isn’t about me” thing, but in a season devoted to preparation, it seems the right thing to do.