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Advent Upon Us

Advent is a time of preparation for Christ’s coming – both in remembrance of the birth of the child Jesus, and in expectation of the coming of Christ in the fullness of shalom. On each Sunday of Advent, the worshipping community focuses on a different aspect of its personal and corporate preparation for Christmas. The theme for this first Sunday in Advent is hope. Advent hope is not based on our immediate experience of life (which can sometimes be more cause for despair than for hope), but on our trust in God.

Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, writes: “Hope means more than just hanging on. It is the conscious decision to see the world in a different way than most others see it. To hope is to look through the eyes of faith to a future not determined by the oppressive circumstances of the present. To hope is to know that the present reality will not have the last word. It is to know that God rules.” Even so, the hope that is expressed in Advent is often filled with urgency and a longing for change.  The Hebrew scriptures affirm hope when the present circumstances seem hopeless; the New Testament writings speak of a future that is expected to be radically different from the present.

"In the days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains... all the nations shall stream to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. 'The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem...They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the way of the Lord."  (Isaiah 2: 2 - 5)

These are words of restoration and renewal and hope. And that gets to the very heart of Advent, Advent, new beginnings. God is ever creating in us and through us, and Isaiah's message foretells of a deliverance from a warring and oppressing world to a new world, and new ways of living that reveal God's vision for peace.

It's a prophetic vision that inspires us to better thoughts, actions and deeds. It's a vision that opens us up to new things and most importantly the new life that Jesus brings and offers to the world. Jesus coming to the world, God's love shared again and offered to the whole world.  One of my favourite contemporary Christmas Hymns is entitled "Dream a Dream" (Shirley Erena Murray 1996). Here are some of the images offered:

"Dream a dream, a hopeful dream. Dream a time, this Christmas time, when no one's hungry or afraid; that weapons go and harvests grow, that friends are met and made. Dream a peace, our planet's peace, the greening of the earth at play, the holy ground, where life found, where God has touched the clay. Dream a gift, the Christmas gift that changes everything we see: the shimmering of angel wing, the Child, the Mystery"

Such hopeful words to describe such a beautiful story, God's love and glory revealed. As the season of Advent unfolds again my prayers for the world are that we will be able to slow down enough in the busyness of living to once again see the glory of God in the season; that we will witness and recognize God among us. May we see God in the compassion of those who tirelessly serve the poor; those who break down the barriers of prejudice; those working on the front-lines of Covid-19 serving and caring for others; those who reach out in any way to share their gifts to make a positive difference in this world. May we see God close up and personal in our journey in worship, sharing of the scriptures, the eucharist, the music, all the building up to the glorious celebration of Christ's birth. Something new is coming, and God is bringing it. Let's ensure we respond to God's initiative that we might come to know even better the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love that are beyond our understanding, but just might be illuminated for us when washed with the bright light of Christ.......

                                                                Come, all the world, let us walk in the way of the Lord! 

                                                                             Yours in Christ's service.......       Pastor Ted.

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