Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Advent Begins: May the Darkness Flee.

Today (sunday 30th November) was the start of Advent, a time of the year I always love. With the placing of wreaths, the lighting of candles and the decking of halls with Christmas decorations, it sounds cliche, but there is a magic in the air. As we turn on the festive lights and get to see the amazing creations our neighbours have put together, the suburbs begin to change. For me these days it begins around Halloween when, on the 29th of October, the neighbourhood is beginning to open up. Rightly or wrongly, this transplanted celebration is gaining popularity amongst the kid’s of Australia. Instead of the legion of the brave heading out to face off the forces of evil in fancy dress at the time when the nights are getting longer and colder, our kids hit the streets looking for lollies when the days are getting longer and warmer. Before the fairy lights lace the verandas, the pumpkins have appeared on the letter boxes, letting the trick or treaters know that it’s safe to knock on the corresponding door. It is now that I see children at my door, dressed in an array of amazing costumes, who are usually hidden with in their own homes, stuck behind computer screens and retreated from the streets around them. The darkness is beginning to subside, the light is coming. With in days Christmas pageants are taking place and Santa has come to town. Carols are beginning to be heard in the stores and the family tree trimming takes place. And then comes today when the first candle of Advent gets lit, the candle of Hope.

Jesus Looks Ahead
In worship today the set gospel reading was taken from Mark 13. On first glance it is an account of Jesus giving his disciples information about the future. It describes tribulations that are yet to come, the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, natural disasters and cosmic phenomena marking the end of history and a warning to be ready for Christ's  return. At first glance it is hard to see how this relates to Advent, the weekly count down to Christmas. But on reflection it's makes perfect sense. Many of the scenarios described were already happening at the time of Christ and even at the time of the writing of the Gospel of Mark several decades later. In fact some of Jesus' predictions didn't come to pass until 70 AD when the Romans finally destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, the place where creation and creator were connected in ancient Jewish belief. The might of Rome crushed the intimate bond between God and his world, seemingly never to be rebuilt again. However God had a plan that would out run the banners of Rome. In the person  of Jesus, God established a new intimate connection with humanity. However when Rome tore him down, God raised him back to life. In Christ there is hope that calls all of us to put our trust in him and the way he calls us to follow. When the sky is falling, and the sun refuses to shine, because Christ lives with in us, there is hope

The Candle of Hope
The Candle of Hope reminds us that no matter how dark our world gets, there is hope. That when our relationships are messy and love has seemingly died, there is hope. That when our bodies give up and our mind fades, there is hope. When there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, and the end is nigh, there is hope. May the light of hope burn brightly in your advent season this year.