Advent Reflections – Week 1 (29 Nov)

In this extraordinary year, most of which has been lived under restrictions of various kinds, with high levels of anxiety for many and real hardship – physical, mental, financial – for some, the Christian season of Advent leading up to Christmas is especially meaningful. Advent is a dark time – just as most of this year has been a dark time. Advent is also, of course, a time of waiting – and as the year fast approaches its end many are waiting to see if 2021 will be better. But Advent is also a time of hope – hope in and through the darkness, hope that makes the waiting meaningful –  there is hope, now, what with vaccines on the horizon, that next year will gradually see us emerging from this difficult time. But the Christian hope is above and beyond all such things – it’s not hope rooted in any experience in this world; it’s hope for God’s world – but actually, it’s a paradox; it’s about God’s world in this world – ­God has come to us – that’s the message of Christmas, which Advent prepares us for – in Advent it’s a promise.

These daily reflections, based on a programme of readings taken from various part of the Bible, lead through each day of Advent, and seek to lead us – ordinary human beings – through the ways in which we have been feeling through this extraordinary time to the slow, sure emergence of God’s promise – up to it’s fulfilment at Christmas – which is only, really, just the beginning…

Advent 1

Who are we now?

Covid 19 has torn us, reduced

Us and released the worst;

Where shall we go?

What might we yet become?

This year draws to its end,

Its losses serve to send

Us lower, and then some.

Yet we must journey on.

Behind lie empty days,

Ahead – who knows? Who says?

Are we still alone?

Advent 2 – Genesis 7:1–24

A flood is coming, though few believe.

This world keeps up its defiance

With its consumption; we thieve

The wood and air with our reliance 

On our own lights. But those who, sleeves

Rolled up, respond  – will science

Be their guide, advice, or nemesis?

Live by faith – we were born for this.

Advent 3 – Genesis 12:1–9

To set out, to go, you know not where,

Across the world, leaving all you’ve known behind.

To go, in these uncertain times, unsure of what you’ll find

Or, ravaged by viral loneliness, where..

Advent 4 – Genesis 32:22–32                                                            

On the way towards what might yet be

There’ll be times when struggle is the only way

Life takes you. Sometimes the darkness of the night

Seems endless. Like having on your back a weight

Of care to bring you down. But wait, the day

Is coming, a light surprises those who see,

Who struggle on, who pray, who do the right – 

Those, in the darkest time, who wait..

Advent 5 – Genesis 37:1–11 

Not any dream will do –

This dream, only; the dream that we might be

Better than we are. To follow such a dream we

Will have to let go of who

We have been, with our coat

Of many-coloured privilege, go down;

Acknowledge that we do not own

Our life; it is a gift. Take note

Of this, then – if we do we’ll rise,

That’s the dream. More than a dream, it is

The way set out from ancient times, a promise

For all who live by faith – we’ll rise.