You who dwell in the garden with friends in attendance,let me hear your voice.
Song of Songs 8:13
Advent is a time of hope, of anticipation but also of waiting.
As a child I expect you were frustrated at only being allowed to open one door at a time of the Advent calendar. Why do we have to wait? Why can’t we open them all at once? But once the doors were all opened the wonder, the joy of the message was amazing. It was worth waiting for.
Maybe you were involved in the school Nativity play. My acting ability was never recognised since the height of my career was fifteenth shepherd (in field –sitting). I never actually got to Bethlehem, never stood with my mates round the manger. Why could I not be cast as one of the Magi, then I would get to see Jesus. I always hoped teacher would choose me next year; but she never did. But I still hoped and waited. The Magi were clever, learned men who had made a study of astrology. They calculated that a bright new star would appear soon. What that star meant they did not know just that its rising heralded something very important. When it appeared as predicted they gathered together their finest gifts for this important event and followed the passage of the star. The journey was long and difficult but they travelled in hope. What they found at the end of their journey was not quite what they expected but then sometimes we do not get what we hope for.
The other day I found a piece that echoes these themes of waiting and travelling in hope and anticipation. It will be familiar to some of you: ‘Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.’
As we waited to open the doors on the Advent calendar years ago, so we now wait in joyful hope for the coming of God’s light into our broken world of chaos. But we do not wait passively, we wait actively together with our fellow Christians to prepare both materially and spiritually for a new and unforeseeable experience of healing and hope; for we need that healing and that hope now more than ever.
May I leave two Scripture readings with you for you to think about? Firstly:
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them.
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice
before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with faithfulness. Psalm 96:11-13
Secondly, the Lord who comes to govern the earth with justice is: ‘ The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:5 (NIV). Let us then wait in joyful hope.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time work for a number of years