The Common Good

Advent or Government Shutdown, Which Matters More?

There is, once again, a threat of a government shutdown. Congress, once again, can’t get along. Even the most basic decision making has stalled as each party postures for their base.
But, it’s almost Christmas and there a better and brighter things to focus on then the latest Rasmussen tracking poll.

I’d like to share some Advent reflections from my former professor at North Park University, Scot McKnight. He is in the midst of a series that points to what Advent is supposed to remind Christians of. It’s a simple message with deep meaning: Jesus is King.

The Gospel of Matthew starts with the lineage of Jesus. We are reminded that he comes from the line of Abraham, David and also a cast of unlikely suspects. The author is sure to include Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and the wife of Uriah. Curious inclusions in a list composed mostly of men.

But, the inclusion is not so curious when we soon here the story of another faithful and courageous woman, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Scot puts it this way:

Matthew tells us that God acted strangely: he chose a virgin who was impregnated supernaturally, with her engaged husband idly watching it all happen, and this conception was through the Holy Spirit. Joseph resisted because he was faithful to the Torah — and the strangeness gets deeper: now Mary has gained a reputation and Joseph has lost his.

This deeply personal act does not remain there but fulfills the prophecy of Simeon found in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus is the foretold Messiah who has been sent to liberate Israel and end it’s exile.

Then, the story continues in Matthew 2. Jesus is born in Bethlehem and the Magi from the East come to visit and bring gifts. Through this we see, as Scot points out, some of the consistent themes of the Gospels already emerging.

Overlooked places and unlikely suspects. That’s where King Jesus will be found and that’s who will recognize him first.

Bethlehem is the little town that fulfills no requirement for importance or grandeur. An overlooked place, it is small an unassuming yet the chosen place for the Christ child to be born.

The Magi are the unlikely suspects to come and bring gifts to the newborn king. The local religious leaders missed it and Herod wanted to kill any possible threat to his power before the young child would even come of age.

Yes. The decisions that are made in Washington D.C. are important. What Congress does or  fails to do will affect the lives of many across the world.

But, this is a time of year that Christians can remember that the most important event that will ever happen, has already happened.


Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.

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