During today’s conversation on Back Porch Theology we’re going to explore a colorful passage at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel account to help prepare our hearts for the miracle of Christmas during this, the first week of Advent. Because despite what retailers would like us to think, the Advent has nothing whatsoever to do with shopping! The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival or coming. In the 4th and 5th Centuries, Advent marked the season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany. During that ancient season of preparation, Christ-followers spent 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for the baptisms of new believers at Epiphany. It wasn’t until the Middle Ages, that Advent was solely connected with Christmas. And while joy is certainly one facet of Advent, there is a necessary sobriety to this season as Deitrich Bonhoeffer explained in his observation: "The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." Bonhoeffer’s assertion that only those cognizant of their own flaws can actually celebrate Christ’s coming aptly describes the biblical characters we’ll be hanging out with today because their true stories sound like they’ve been ripped from the tabloids! They’re pretty unusual – if not very unlikely - ambassadors of Advent but they provide glorious proof that perfection is not a prerequisite to be adopted into the family of God! So please grab a cup of coffee and your Bible – unless you’re driving or feeding a giant Tupperware of cranberry sauce into the garbage disposal, of course – and come hang out on the porch with us!
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