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The Theological Profundity Of Considering The First Coming Of Jesus After Considering The Second Coming (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge on the value of considering the incarnation of Jesus after considering the second coming:

Does Advent run backwards? The movement is from the second coming to the first coming; it doesn’t seem to make sense. The season begins with the last things and ends with the nativity in Bethlehem. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?
Not really. The rhythm of the church’s seasons turns out, in this as in so many other ways, to be theologically profound. If we began with the nativity and then moved to the last judgment, we would be so softened up by that little baby in the manger that we wouldn’t be able to take the second coming of Christ in power seriously. The solemnity and awe do not lie in the fact that the baby becomes the eternal judge. What strikes us to the heart is this: the eternal Judge, very God of very God, Creator of the worlds, the Alpha and the Omega, has become that little baby.

Fleming Rutledge, Advent – The Once & Future Coming Of Jesus Christ, Eerdmans, 2018, pg 60.


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Feeling Dusty

“Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
Many Christians around the world will be hearing those words as part of Ash Wednesday liturgies.
Apart from making my annual declaration about giving up needless asceticism for Lent, what can be learnt from the season?
Thoughts of 40 days of denial (or any denial, anytime) is counter-productive if it is thought to be emulating or repeating what Jesus did.
Jesus wasn’t simply denying himself for a time, he was contending against the forces of spiritual darkness and winning.
Any denials of our own simply point to our own inability to prevail against evil.
They usually demonstrate our own inability to prevail against ourselves.
Any asceticism on our part should not emphasise our capacity to emulate, but our frailty and dependence on Jesus’ achievement.
It is in the completeness of our weakness and inability that the extent of the Lord’s victory is come.
We don’t inspire ourselves through convincing ourselves of our capacity to walk like Jesus.
Our inspiration is a conviction of our incapacity, and the knowledge of both Jesus’ actions and the spiritual victory he shares with his people.


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Lenten Observance

I’m a Protestant, you know.
It’d be worse if I only did this sort of thing this time of year.
(There’ll be something more serious tomorrow, I promise)
lent
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