The Vicar Writes
The shops started celebrating weeks ago but, for Christians, Christmas is still weeks away.
Right now, we’re in Advent, a sober, austere season of undecorated churches, the colour purple and darkness pierced by candle light. I love this season, and pray that we may listen to what its trying to say to us.
Our readings remind us of Jesus’ promise to “come again” – to complete God’s plan of healing and saving this world. We do not know when this will be, but are assured that in the darkness and longing of our un-healed, un-saved lives, the God we wait for waits alongside us and within us. In this mean-time, this Advent-waiting time, God is the energy behind every good, kind and just human deed. He is the living presence of hope.
The season of Advent calls out for God’s judgement on the world. Muddle-headed Christians have made this a theme of terror, but true judgement is something for which we should all long. A world that creates billionaires and beggars, where newspapers spy on grieving parents and in which rich bankers create havoc, leaving the rest of us to pay, is a world that in desperate need of God’s wise and powerful judgement.
God’s judgement is the force that rights wrongs, heals hurts and lifts up the poor and the voiceless. Those who know their need of mercy, and who are themselves merciful and compassionate, need have no fear of wise and true judgement.
Christ our Light
My favourite image of Advent is by Holman Hunt, in a picture called “Christ the Light of the World”. It’s inspired by a verse from the book of revelation, where Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens that door I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”. In Holman Hunt’s picture, Jesus is standing outside of a house on a dark night, knocking at the door. He is holding a powerful lantern which radiates light. There is no handle on the outside of this door, because it can only be opened on the inside. Just like the human heart.