Ancient-Future Time by Robert E. Webber

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Book and Article Reviews, Worship

Ancient-Future time refers to the Christian calendar and centering our life around the life of Christ.  The Christian calendar, as Bob Webber states, does not in itself give us spirituality.  Rather, it is a participation in the redemptive story of God.  The story of God is one not simply to be remembered but to be embodied in our day-to-day life.  That is to say, we live out the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This remembrance follows three steps in both the cycle of light and the cycle of life: expectation, fulfillment, and proclamation.

During the Advent season we wait for the revealing of the Messiah.  Much as ancient Israel waited for the Christ, we too seek and long for a breaking in of God into our lives.  However, now, we wait for the Messiah’s coming at the end of the age when all things shall be fulfilled.  Until then, we allow God to stir up the stagnation in our lives with a fresh Word.  We center on God’s holiness, recognize our sinfulness, and allow God to change us.

Christmas celebrates the incarnation of the Christ.  We “empty” ourselves of all that is not Christ so that Christ may be born in us.  Jesus’ light shines forth in our darkness.  It is a time where we humble ourselves so that we might be meek.  It is also during this time that we dwell on the mystery of the God-man, Jesus.  God’s humility in sacrifice becomes our call.  This is best symbolized through our baptism: dying to self, living to Christ.

Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to us.  It is the continually increasing revelation of God to man.  Jesus revealed the fullness of God in His life.  Some day we shall know in full the glory of God.  This progression of revelation is what we yearn.  We pray that Christ will be manifested in us and through us.  As such, we become a sign of the epiphany of God.

Finally, Lent is the season of repentance which leads us into the paschal mystery and to death itself.  Again, we are to live out our baptism vows.  We die to self and live to Christ.  It is a time that we deal with temptation face on.  Moreover, we do not simply give up something; we take up something as well.  We put off the old self while putting on the new self.  This is done through the spiritual disciples: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Fasting is the discipline of turning away from sin, prayer is the reliance on God’s redemptive healing, and almsgiving is the virtue that replaces our sinful patterns.

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