Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Week Four: Salvation

Salvation.  A word that has profound meaning yet a word which has, ironically, lost much of its meaning from overuse and imprecise usage among various religious groups.

It is an extremely important term in the Bible.  In the Old Testament its meaning refers to a broadening of space for life.  This is described as being done with divine help, especially when God's people face some kind of adversity or some adversary.

Salvation also comes to focus on the relationship of God with God's people and the people's relationship with God.  It is also utilized to describe some kind of deliverance.  Here we often hear the word 'salvation' with the words atonement, redemption, pardon, righteousness and reconciliation.  The goal of this deliverance is the establishment of God's reign among God's people and the other nations of the world (see Ezekiel 36:22-32, Jeremiah 31:31-34; Isaiah 52:6-10).

In the New Testament, we read of Jesus' understanding of this term which is found in his declarations of the establishment of God's Kingdom.  New Testament writers then take this idea and combine it with the fact that Jesus' name comes from  the Hebrew root meaning "salvation."  Thus God the savior and Jesus the savior become fused together.  Therefore, for the writers of the New Testament, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the focal point for the dawn of salvation (see 1st Corinthians 15).

When we speak of salvation in the Christian faith, we are talking about it in the particular terms of the New Testament understanding.  When we proclaim that our 'salvation' has come or is at hand, we are speaking of the birth of Christ.  We are also looking to the return of Christ as the ultimate completion of that salvation because the resurrection points not only to present significance but future significance.

Taking all the weeks of Advent into consideration, then, we are proclaiming that in Christ peace, hope, justice and salvation are to be found.  As Christians, then, it is our responsibility to not only reflect these ideals, but to so order our lives that we follow the path and person of Christ that our lives are a witness to the person of Christ and our church is a place where these four ideals are sought and celebrated and encountered both in the community and in our faith in Christ.

Advent, then, is a powerful time of definition.  May our lives be so ordered!

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