O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the Law
In cloud and majesty and awe!

—O Come, O Come Emmanuel (trad.)

Today’s pack is something of a theological deep cut. I’m including a short write-up, but feel free to scroll past to the decklist if you aren’t in the mood for a brief overview of what Mt. Sinai and Law has to do with Christmas!

Professor Torbeck’s Advent Theology 101

Okay, so: On Day 2 of the “O Antiphons,” the chant implores the God who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and who gave him the Law on Sinai to reach out and liberate us from oppression, as was done for the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The Advent season is in many ways about this hope for justice, and the pack we opened yesterday references the particular Gospel that is most resonant with this antiphon—the visit of the Magi precipitates a King’s fearful massacre of all the male children of Bethlehem two years of age and younger (commemorated as the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28; cf. Matt 1:13-23). While some scholars doubt the historicity of this event, the account nevertheless begins an important literary parallel that the Gospel of Matthew will draw again and again: Jesus as a new Moses.

Speaking of Moses, here’s a song that expresses this desire for deliverance:

While Moses’s mother places him in a basket in the Nile and manages to have him adopted by the royal family (Exodus 1-2); Joseph, Mary, and Jesus flee to Egypt, and then later return, just as Moses does. A few chapters later, just as Moses had led the Israelites through the desert and received the Law at Sinai (Exodus 18ff), Jesus gathers his disciples, ascends a mountain, and delivers the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7); by preaching Torah, he “brings down the Law” in a way meant to remind the reader of Moses. Still with me? Awesome.

In short, the Matthean picture of Jesus, invoked here in the second antiphon, is of a bringer of renewal of the Law—the call for renewed efforts to build a just community that liberates us from a malaise of simple obedience and for a praxis of love that feeds the hungry, gives drink to the thirsty, clothes the naked, shelters the homeless, and visits the prisoner (Mt 25). As Cornel West has put it, “justice is what love looks like in public.”

Just Laws

Azor, the Lawbringer leads this selection of cards based on the second “O Antiphon.” This Azorius pack hits hard in the air, locks our opponents’ creatures down, gains us life, and draws cards—that’s a lot for 20 cards (including lands) to pull off. Here’s the list:

Advent 18: Lawgiver

Creatures (7)
Ascended Lawmage
Azor, the Lawbringer
Azorius Guildmage
Defender of Law
Godhead of Awe
Law-Rune Enforcer
Pride of the Clouds

Artifacts (1)
Prismatic Lens

Spells (4)
Lawmage's Binding
Sphinx's Insight
Sphinx's Revelation
Lands (8)
Glacial Fortress
Hallowed Fountain
Prahv, Spires of Order
Snow-Covered Island
Snow-Covered Plains
Thriving Heath

This pack has a number of ways for us to outmaneuver our opponent. Law-Rune Enforcer, Azorius Guildmage, and Lawmage’s Binding all lock our opponent’s creatures down to prevent them from attacking or blocking, while even a mighty Stonehoof Chieftain would become a 1/1 before the majesty of the Godhead of Awe. Our sphinx-themed cards—Azor, Sphinx’s Insight, and Sphinx’s Revelation—will keep our hands full and our life total high. And Liberate can save one of our creatures from removal or combat damage.

Combining this with either angels or faeries from Shepherds or Dance of the Sugarplum Faerie is a strong choice. The flying synergy on Pride of the Clouds benefits from each, and the ability to save our creatures from removal is a thematic and mechanical synergy that only helps us control the board and soar to victory!

Jacob Torbeck is a researcher and instructor of theology and ethics. He hails from Chicago, IL, and loves playing Commander and pre-modern cubes.

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