Dear Parish Family
The message of Advent has always been a call to prepare. To prepare oneself for the journey of faith by knowing personally the scriptures. Not just the pastoral happy bits but the whole dynamic truth. Including the passages which challenge your assumptions. To strengthen one’s prayer life as a power to sustain not just a wish list. To stir within oneself the courage to live the Gospel in a diverse community. This is the way of a sustained living hope in God’s salvation.
“Prepare the Way of the Lord!”
John the Baptist is often seen as the key character in the Gospel narrative about making people open to the coming ministry of Jesus. He is certainly seen as the public face of the call to “Prepare the Way,” but there are certainly other individuals in the Gospels who call us to be ready to see the glory of God. Zacharias and Elizabeth were called to overcome ageism, so they could see the glory of God in their lives. Mary had to face being a mother out of wedlock, overcome social norms, to see the glory of God. Joseph had to take responsibility for something which was not legally or morally his problem. Instead of using a legal loophole, he said yes to God’s plan of salvation. My point here is that John fulfilled the traditional expectations of a prophet (not an easy way of life but “normal” for a prophet) while others were called to go beyond their social and religious comfort zones to participate in God’s plan of salvation.
This year’s Advent letter began with the typical, traditional encouragement to prepare oneself to live the Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas. The relatively easy and safe Advent exhortation. Yet we do not live in easy times when it comes to living faithfully in this world. One generation is being pitted against another. Love of neighbour is over ruled by fear, hatred and economics. Religious superiority is being used to determine who God can accept as worthy of His love and where the glory of God can be seen and experienced. Why do we continue to demonstrate that we have learned nothing from the Gospels? How can we read these stories and not say to ourselves, “Lord have mercy!” So here is the Advent challenge for you this year. Pick something, an event or topic, that is outside your comfort zone and ask yourself, “Where is God in this?” So often the religious of His time brought people to Jesus to confirm that God had judged them unworthy. Jesus’ response to these test situations was, so you can see the glory of God. Can you find the glory of God outside your comfort zone? Can you see it in the challenge you are personally facing? This is not going to be easy because you really don’t want to go there. Welcome to the challenge of living faithfully in this World.
Let God walk with you.
The Reverend Canon David Warren