Saturday, November 26, 2022

Advent is only a foretaste

Philip Jenkins, from "Advent, and the End Times":
If you don’t think you know the antiphons — well, you’re probably wrong. You know them in English if you have ever heard a very popular hymn translated by J. M. Neale, which begins,
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel....
Each antiphon gives one of the divine titles associated with messianic prophecy, with a prayer, each rooted in scripture. We begin for instance with Sapientia, Wisdom:
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Then we move to Adonai, the God who manifested on Sinai; then the Root of Jesse; the Key of David; Oriens, the Morning Star; King of the Nations; and finally, on Christmas Eve, to the title Emmanuel itself. And roughly, Neale’s hymn translates the antiphons in that sequence. You thus work through the whole development of the Old Testament, so that you are then ready to welcome the Christian message on Christmas morning. ....

That “coming” reminds us that Christmas is only a foretaste, a first draft, of the Second and final coming, a point that assuredly will not appear as much as it might in the year’s Christmas sermons. Advent after all, adventus, is the Latin form of the Greek parousia. To understand the implications of that weighty word in the New Testament, see its main occurrences in two heavily End Times-related sequences, namely Matthew 24, and both 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Typically, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Now that would be a Christmas sermon.
Philip Jenkins, "Advent, and the End Times," Anxious Bench, Nov. 24, 2022.

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