Advent has sped along, and we are very near to Christmas, now. There are some years, in which this time of year is a struggle. That is how it has seemed to me, this year. As most of you are aware, the death of my father, in September, has made it necessary for my mother to go into aged care. She is now living at Shoreham House, but the transition has not been an easy one. There are all sorts of things still to be done, and at such a busy time.
Yet, I must also engage with what God is up to in my life, and in the life of the parish. The book we have been using for our Tuesday lunchtime Blue Door Study group, is “Advent for Everyone. A Journey with the Apostles.” By Tom Wright. We have found it a most inspiring book. For me, it reaches deep down into the depths of my struggle. We are invited to reflect on the feelings and heart-journey of the Apostles in the decades after the Resurrection, through study of passages from the New Testament letters.
Our discussions each week have centred on the wonderful examples Tom Wright gives, and his insights. I’m finding it very helpful.
This third Sunday of Advent, we engage with the theme of Joy. The joy is complex, it seems to me, and filled with questions.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Says Paul to the Thessalonians.
And Isaiah sings:
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
No matter what our circumstances, we are called to rejoice in what God has done and is doing for us, and for the world, in the message of the Christ who comes. John the Baptist stands as a witness – this week and last week. As Christine said in her excellent sermon last Sunday – inspired by Verna Holyhead; The Baptist stands in the way – obscuring our vision of the child in the manger, for a time. He is a witness to the light which comes into the world to enlighten everyone. But we must see the witness first, so that we are guided carefully in the way we perceive the coming.
And we must pray without ceasing. Pray always, for one another, for the world, and give thanks.
How will you try to live this call in the next week? Prayer is our native breath, and joy and thanksgiving our appropriate response to God’s overwhelming answering Grace. We have been directed to the light of the world – coming to Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago; coming into our hearts in our lives, today; and coming into the Kingdom – the Rule of God within us, already, but not yet. It is a great mystery.
God bless you in your preparations.