The Story Approaches Its Climax

by Mike McKinniss

Ramon Casas’s Jove Decadent via wikimedia commons

If you’re like me (alas, too few are), it is the worst kind of torture to have to set a good book down just as you are speed reading your way towards its glorious and compelling climax. Like yanking a still-beating heart from its protective rib cage, so it is to seize the life-giving novel from my fingers.

Perhaps you’re not like me (it’s OK; we’re all welcome in God’s kingdom), and you wish {re}fresh were a video blog. The analogy changes, while the truth remains. You’ve reached the final season of your favorite TV drama, you’ve nestled in with popcorn and beverage, you’re ready to binge watch via Netflix to the grand conclusion. Aaaaaaand the internet conks out.

My apologies for eliciting such awful images. But the point is made: We all love a story, and every story needs its climax.

In a way, this is what Advent is all about. In the relatively brief nativity narratives that Matthew (chapters 1-2) and Luke (again, chapters 1-2) give us, the gospel writers are telling us, in their own unique ways, that the birth of Jesus signaled the beginning of the zenith of Israel’s story.

Matthew, for example, begins his gospel with a genealogy (Mt 1:1-17). What could be more boring than that?! But Matthew’s list of “begats” tells a story. What began with God calling Abraham (v. 2), reached great heights in King David (v. 6), seemed lost in the Babylonian exile (v. 12) is now landing squarely on Jesus (v. 16).

Or in Luke’s account, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and makes an announcement: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Lk 1:32-33, NIV).

Gabriel is hitting all the main talking points from an old message given to David by the prophet Nathan. In 2 Samuel 7, God promises that David’s son will be His own son (v. 14), that this son of David’s will also be king (v. 12), and that this kingdom will be eternal (v. 16).

This story, which had begun some 15 centuries (give or take) earlier with Abraham’s faith to follow this strange new God; this story, which saw its high water mark some 10 centuries earlier in the worshiper David’s kingship; this story is now beginning its breakneck run toward the conclusion.

So settle into your favorite overstuffed chair, get a nice hot drink, and guard against all interruptions, because Advent is here. And it’s all racing ahead toward one grand conclusion.

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