We approach Christmas through Advent, the time of preparation; we all know this, but what are we actually preparing for? A jolly time, loving and giving to our families and friends? A couple of days of fun, albeit, “spiritual” fun as well as parties; nativity plays, midnight services, extra prayers, wonderful Gregorian Antiphons. All reminding us that God became human in the form of Jesus, that now we have a relationship with God different from that described in the Hebrew Scriptures. It may prove less reassuring when we take to heart the knowledge that in the Incarnation God incarnated a whole new world order, different and radical. Not just as a one-off event, but as an on-going, ever-growing, developing and changing revelation to everyone who claims Christian belief. Jesus’ birth was just the start. If this was not so, why did he need disciples? Obviously to carry on what he began. Not to keep everything the same in every generation, but to encourage the world to move forward, to develop in keeping with God’s evolution of humanity, the changes wrought in people by knowledge and experience both from God and by their employment of God-given gifts and learning. There was never any “golden age”in the past, the golden age is always now, for this is the
only time we have in which to be the best Christians we can be. The better we are now, the more effective is Christianity in the world. Our churches die when they remain locked into an ill-fitting past tense. When Jesus said the Temple would be destroyed it was metaphorical speech as well as prophesy. Time to relinquish our reliance on old ways, old forms, old structures, human and architectural, in order to rely on Christ. We leave old ways behind every day, even by simply living in a different set of 24 hours. Each thing has its day and then we grow into new ways of understand God’s revelation, these demand change from our churches, our and ourselves. Pope Francis knows this and Archbishop Justin Welby knows this, the forward-looking theologians who deal in today’s intellectual currency rather than old money know this. When we deny change, we deny Christ, for Christ came to change the world, and us, not just once, but over and over again, honing us until we are sharp enough to an cut through what holds us rigidly still, the bonds which hobble us and eventually trip us over; buffing us until we shine like the stars and create light for others in the darkness. Perhaps Advent is more a challenge than is comfortable? Maybe its responsibilities should
even scare us a bit more than it presently does? But help is at hand!
(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)