Dear Parish Family,
The events of the world have set the stage for us to fully embrace the power and significant of the story of the Incarnation. Far too often the comfort of our sheltered social context has enabled us to drift into the gentle pastoral story of the manger scene. We will complain about the chaos of shopping but run from store to store anyways. This year Advent, Christmas and Epiphany will be celebrated in the midst of a very dark time in our world’s history. Yet this is just the world situation in which God answered the question, “Where is God?”
The theme for Advent was Hope – Hope in a dark time of violence and despair. The Gospel of John’s imagery of Christ as the light of the world which darkness could not overcome speaks directly to our dark times. The power of the image of a very visible light, made all that more visible because of the deep darkness of our current times, enhanced and drew out the meaning of our Advent Wreath and meditation candle. Light shines in the darkness. The darker the times, the stronger the light. Where is God? God is seen in the Light of Christ made visible in us. “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Now we enter into the season of hope made physical – the Incarnation. Hope is not a dream but a reality. The Word became flesh to prove it is possible to both live in hope and make hope visible for all to see. Here again we have been able to skip over the full import of the story of the Incarnation. Sadly every aspect of that story is now on the news daily. Mary and Joseph a “homeless” couple giving birth in a backyard stable. A family given aid from three strangers but who so quickly become refugees fleeing political violence. A family who hopes to return home but have to wait for a regime change to do so. Even then they have to rebuild their lives in another city. This is the world Jesus was born into. This is the world in which the message of salvation was proclaimed. Our Gospel story and message speaks directly to our time. It never was a comfortable story. It was, and is, a story of grace and power. A story we need to embrace. To make the reality of our hope in Jesus Christ as visible as the images of chaos and darkness.
Every one of us have common, life changing opportunities to make our hope in Christ real. Seize the opportunity. Make the light of Christ visible. Celebrate Christmas for what it is, a story of hope for dark times. God is here with us – Emmanuel.
God be with you, now and always.
Fr. David Warren