Rev Tania writes:
And so, the year starts again, and as usual, we begin with the end – the vision of God’s reign accomplished in Christ. Whether we speak of a vision of God’s reign in the midst of the turmoil of the past, or a vision of God’s reign coming in the midst of the turmoil of the future, the essential message remains the same – God is always coming to us, and the world’s turmoil does not stop us from knowing and experience God’s reign right here and now. It is the hope we have that God is at work in our world that gives the security, the grace and the strength to live faithfully as followers of Christ and to make our contributions to the world’s transformation – and it is this hope that Advent Sunday offers us.
As the new Church Year begins and we enter the Advent season once again, the Lectionary readings offers us a challenge to reflect carefully on our lives and our response to God’s presence and activity in our lives and our world.
Both Isaiah and the Psalm for this week offer a plea for God to come to rescue and restore God’s people, with repentance as a strong element of this plea. The recognition here is that the people have landed in the trouble they are in because of turning away from God, and now they long to be turned back and healed.
In the New Testament this theme is developed and connected with the coming of Christ to a troubled world. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, God’s blessing and sustaining presence are celebrated as the things that sustain us as we await the hope we have in the coming of Christ’s accomplished reign.
The passage from Mark’s Gospel – which certainly relates to the war which arose from the Jewish uprising of 66AD – gives an apocalyptic picture of a world in turmoil to which Christ comes, and from which God’s people are rescued. This rescue is not so much an escape from the struggle as it is an experience of God’s presence and protection in the midst of it.
This Advent season starts, then, with a reminder of our hope in Christ, and the assurance of God’s presence in our lives, even as we are encouraged to be alert and repentant in order to ensure that we do not miss God when God comes to us.
May our worship this week, and throughout the Advent season, fill us with hope in God’s subversive, ever-present reign.
In prayer, Rev Tania