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Scott Bullock

Pre-Game Hype

I went to one of the LA Kings 2023 home playoff games against the Edmonton Oilers. AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blasted my eardrums in stereophonic intensity while a seismic wave of percussive backbeat passed through my body, accompanied by a blinding light show that seared my retinas, a blitz of illumination which should have come with a potential “seizure-inducing” fair warning. It was a four-minute build up before the announcer introduced the players to the roar of the playoff crowd. Once the men in black were on the ice, the fans chanted antiphonally (call and response), “Go Kings, Go. Go Kings, Go.”

The hyped up introduction of the Kings players leaves no question about who is coming and what is about to happen.

Holy Hype

An early tradition observed seven Vesper (evening) services as a build-up to the celebration of the feast day of Christmas. It is an octave (eight days), with seven evenings that precede the day of celebration. The people chanted antiphonally in a call and response that echoed both the ancient prophetic hope of the Messiah and the universal Church’s longing for his return.

Advent is sometimes called the “little Lent,” a period of waiting that bears the same purple paraments and vestments as its lengthier cousin, a color that represents penitence. Like Lent is to Easter, Advent is to Christmas, a period of contemplation and preparation for the reception of the Messiah, God with us.

Noisy Preparations

While Advent, like Lent, is a time to slow down and prepare, that period of preparation is not necessarily still or quiet.

Think about it. Have you ever gotten your home ready to host a party for someone? It can be a chaotic and cacophonous affair. We recently prepared our home to celebrate the senior prom of our daughter and a good friend. Our home became ground zero for the pre-prom festivities. We worked to make it special so that when the young folk arrived, they’d receive more than the hype of game day, but a sense of this special occasion and our grand love and gratitude for them during this milestone of their four years of high school. It was a loud and busy, but focused preparation.

Advent is similar—a focused but noisy affair, but noisy in the sense of the Hebrew word “Rua” from Psalm 100 fame: “make a joyful noise (rua)” in preparation for the coming of God. 

  • Jesus’ prediction of disaster for Jerusalem the temple because of the rejection of the Messiah.
  • Jesus’ admonition to be watchful, keeping track of the signs.
  • The difficulty of waiting and the danger of falling away.
  • A grand vision of glory to keep us vigilant.
  • The significance of the baptism of repentance and the coming of the Messiah.
  • John the Baptist’s idiosyncratic attire and being instantly recognized as a prophet.
  • John the Baptist was recognized. Jesus had to be pointed out.
  • Jesus is the main event. Don’t settle for the opening act.
  • Songs of Ascents: psalms of pilgrimage to the great festivals in Jerusalem.
  • “Tears” and “weeping” because of confrontation with holiness of God and human unholiness.
  • “Songs of joy” because of anticipation of basking in God’s presence.
  • Advent also combines sorrow at sin and joy about the coming of Jesus.
  • The totally unexpected Annunciation.
  • Mary’s transition from being troubled to embracing the mysterious blessing.
  • The gift of the Spirit to lead and to guide, to quicken and to remind us of his coming redemption, coming sanctification, and coming glory. 
  • Join with Mary in her song of triumph!

Scott Bullock

Scott Bullock is a Board Member and Contributor with The Pastors Workshop. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served churches in Illinois, New Jersey, and California. He holds an MA in New Testament Studies from Wheaton College, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a ThM in New Testament from Princeton Theological Seminary. Scott is married with three teen-aged children.


What is AIM Commentary?

AIM stands for Ancient context, the text through the lens of Jesus (ησοῦς), and our Modern application. 

Understanding the Ancient or original context of the passage is necessary to inform and guide our interpretation. We also believe along with the Reformers that the interpretation of the Ancient context of the Hebrew scripture for the church necessarily flows through its Lord, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we affirm that the role of the preacher to bring the congregation from the Ancient context through Christ and to the Modern context, making the message real in our hearts and lives.