"The God of this nation Israel chose our ancestors and honored them in Egypt by gloriously leading them out of their slavery." - Acts 13:17
Make no mistake about it. When the Apostle Paul stood up to declare the Gospel to a gathering of believers in ancient Turkey, he made it clear that Israel's devotion to God is based on the liberating work enacted by God in Israel's history. Israel follows the Lord supremely because the Lord is Israel's Supreme Liberator.
We can all give a host of reasons why we believe in God, why we love God, why we follow God. But as a person who strives to overcome historic and systemic oppression on a daily basis, I do not have the luxury to devote myself to anyone or anything that is not invested in my liberation.
And I am clear that God's liberation is not limited to just the realms of spirit and emotion.
Israel's bondage in Egypt was not just a metaphysical bondage. Egypt's economic system had to be transformed; Egypt's social hierarchy had to be unraveled; and Egypt's political power had to be altered in order to effect Israel's liberation.
Advent means nothing if it doesn't mean greater freedom for all people who still live under the oppressions of social stigma, racial profiling, religious intolerance, gender bias, transphobia, and economic exploitation.
Advent means nothing if it doesn't mean that wolves and lambs can co-exist with equal and mutual respect for life.
Advent means nothing if it doesn't mean that the babes born in mangers have the same dignity and the same opportunities afforded to them as the babes born in mansions.
Lord, this Advent Season, give us greater capacity to see ourselves as your agents of liberation.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.