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Advent shines a light on our dark world and shows us how to hope
10:00am Monday 30th December 2013 in News
THERE are plenty of Christian words in the lexicon whose meaning I find myself having to explain. Many have been taken over by business.
So, ‘Confirmation’, is something I do after pencilling in a meeting and then making sure I can attend. ‘Font’ is what I can spend hours choosing to make sure that my document makes the best first impression on my peers. Luckily, ‘Advent’ still has a vestige of its original meaning: mostly thanks to the commercial world and their myriad chocolate Advent calendars.
In fact, even a sense of what it means is contained within that commercial wrapper, because ‘Advent’ means ‘coming towards’ and includes a sense of anticipation and excitement, of waiting and watching. Anyone with very young children will know how painful the wait can be; particularly for those whose understanding of time still comes in terms of ‘three sleeps’ … or ‘four episodes of Peppa Pig’.
In Church, at this time of year the Advent we are waiting for is an extraordinary event – the moment in history when the Creator of the Universe intervenes in our mucky, grotty world. It is the thing we all want God to do (‘why won’t he just intervene’) and yet refuse to believe He ever does.
We argue about the impossibility of a benevolent God who allows suffering and say that if God really did care and really was omnipotent then he would do something.
Yet we don’t hear the hollow laughter in the wings as God whispers to his main actor ‘but I already have done something and they still won’t believe me.’ When terrible things happen to us, or to those we love, one of the reasons we can feel overwhelmed is because hope has been extinguished. Hope is what lets you live from one day to the next without the walls closing in on you.
The idea that God might be interested enough in you and me is what starts to turn the story around. Not that God will swagger in like Clint Eastwood and gun down the baddies, but that a seed of hope can be brought into the darkness by the birth of a baby.
This is how God wants to save us. Not as an action hero but by connecting with our most sentimental side, the side of us that knows what love is. Why would God do it this way? To make sure we are not threatened into belief, but encouraged into belief. Advent lifts us up and gives us hope.
And what about the other side of the story? That Advent shines a light on our darkest places? When Pure Goodness enters our world, we see perfection and we know we cannot measure up. And our response is repentance.
In exactly the same way you would try to get your house ready for Christmas, you should be trying to get your own house in order – the house where your soul resides. Jesus is on his way and you should be taking the time to think seriously about that. There may be some tidying up to be done.
Advent. A time to consider ourselves as the people we could become. A time to prepare. A time to wait.
Knowing that there is light in our darkness and that the darkness can not overcome it.
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