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Advent’s message of hope can be trusted

The truth will set us free

by Vernon S. Broyles III | Presbyterians Today

Photo by Tim Umphreys via Unsplash

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him, and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. — Matthew 2:1–4 (NRSV Updated Edition)

Of course, news such as that delivered by the wise men would naturally “upset the apple cart” of all those in authority — both political and religious — who were living during a time known as the Pax Romana or “Roman Peace.” It was a time in which the Roman authorities would ensure “peace” if the religious leaders would keep their own people in line. Clearly, the news of a new king was a threat to all who had some measure of power. In fact, the news of this new “king” brought into full view the reality that both political and religious leaders — and even the people themselves — had allowed self-interest, rather than justice, to determine the quality of life and the prospects of hope for the future.

The question for us is how shall we respond to the “Roman Peace” of our own day? We must face the fact that our own society is in a mess.

Among the many messes is the alarming rate we are losing schoolteachers. According to a 2022 National Education Association survey, a staggering 55% of educators are thinking about leaving the profession earlier than they had planned. The survey cited “the immense strain” educators have been under since 2020. Teachers are a target for what they teach or don’t teach.

Vernon S. Broyles III

In a faith-challenged society where one of the clear messages is that “you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free,” we cannot endure the constant stream of lies that burden us. We are, in fact, in a depressing state, from which we must have relief. Yet, there is an answer. It lies before us in the promise of God’s Good News. This Advent season, we must live in hope, knowing how poorly we have honored God’s promises. We must grasp the hope that was there in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The message of Advent and Christmas is plainly before us.

Vernon S. Broyles III is a volunteer for public witness in the PC(USA)’s Office of the General Assembly.

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