The first Sunday in advent, and I am not preaching as I had planned, my 3 reflections on the Scriptures won’t be heard, and I am not going to publish them here, because as always my preaching would have been extempore, and as often, I both know and did not know exactly what I was going to say! The first Sunday in advent and I am sick, I have been up in the night, and after half an hour of wrestling with myself I gave up, admitted defeat and called the church steward to give my apologies, and of course I am feeling guilty, but I have to say that I am also feeling relieved, I am not indispensable, worship will have happened without me, and I have a chance to recover from my nocturnal wakefulness, pondering now if I dare eat anything, and thinking that the answer is no!
I am supposed to be meeting with some members of the church this afternoon, just as I cancelled this morning, I am going to have to call and cancel that meeting too, sharing germs, as I am telling myself is not a good plan, and yet I feel guilty….
I look at my overstuffed diary for the week ahead, am I going to need to cancel anything more? Right now I don’t know….
So what then do I do with all of this guilt and angst as I encounter the first Sunday of Advent from a sick bed rather than a pulpit, I guess I could receive it as a quiet gift, noting that I have had time this morning to read, to ponder and to draw. I could see it as an invitation to let go of my busy tendencies and to choose to slow down, and wonder if I can take that slowing into the remainder of the season, a season that calls us to simplicity beyond the tinsel, baubles and glitter that often accompany it.
So what fills the news today? Reports that child poverty is on the increase, and warnings that under a Tory Government it is likely to worsen, concerns that nobody is really taking climate change seriously, the arguments around Brexit rumbling on sits next to the acknowledgement that one of the men trying to stop the London Bridge attacker was Polish ( as if we should be surprised by that). There is much more of course, and it would be easy to become overwhelmed and fail to speak out because of a numbing hopelessness that disempowers.
But, Advent calls us to look for hope, in the Northern Hemisphere it falls at the darkest part of the year, the days grow ever shorter, and light is often scarce, those like me who suffer from SADS take vitamin D and break out SADS lamps in order to cope, as the first candle on the advent ring is lit, a glow in the gloom reminds us that there is hope to be found, even in the dark. This is the message of Christ, who calls us to remember that we can be a part of the lightening and brightening of this world, that we can live and love in such a way that the God colours shine through our lives, and bring light to others. We can be bearers of hope, whose life-light pushes shadows aside.
So I am asking myself:
1. How will I choose love over hate today?
2. How will I speak out about injustice? What will I do?
3. How will I bring hope to another person?
My prayer can only be to become more Christ-like as I begin this advent journey…..