When we’ve lived as committed Christian believers all our lives, brought up in a Christian family, gone to Christian schools, higher education all Christian too, then theological College and ordination, it’s hard to see how amazing, how exciting, how turning the world upside down it must have been at the beginning, when it was all absolutely NEW, unheard of, shattering.
Much, if not most of the New Testament is written with a Jewish background in mind, Christ Jesus the fulfilment of God the Father’s promises to Israel.
But the Corinthians were absolutely nothing like that. Their pagan world view was dignified, artistic, a bit tired, like the stories The Myths of Greece and Rome by Guerber, 1915, my mother got for me to read as a child to my Jewish great grandmother, not much older than I am now, in her late 80s.
What are we to do now, asks Paul, of the Corinthians?
Absolutely nothing counts now except to wait for the coming of Our Lord Jesus. That is all that matters, and at his coming he will strengthen you, and make you absolutely blameless. It’s as simple as that,
The Gospel for this first Sunday in Advent is equally shattering. Just keep awake, because none of us, not even the Son himself knows when the Son of Man is coming, only the Father.
The whole structure of Jewish nationhood centred on the Temple, is going to be swept away, utterly destroyed.
When we read the Gospels it’s difficult to separate out what comes from the words of Jesus himself, and what’s later additions, interpolations, explanations.
So it’s difficult to know what Jesus himself actually said or thought.
But, here, we do seem to have what Jesus said and thought. Jesus had such brilliant insight, was such a marvellous speaker, had such amazing spiritual power, but what he did was only to predict what was going to happen using the Old Testament thought-world in which he’d been brought up, and the insight into future events which his Father had so amazingly given him. Jesus could see that the Romans weren’t going to let the Jews and the Herods carry on indefinitely as if the ancient independent Israel had come back.
It’s like the Covid Virus, we keep on being told soothingly, that soon it’ll be under control, and things’ll be just like before.
But how is that possible ?
Only God the Father knows what the world will be like.
Let us pray that we’ll be prepared to be guided by Jesus’ own teaching, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
29th November 2020