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The joy of advent and God's faithfulness

Opinion

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, one of the great joys of coming to Adelaide is the unexpected surprise of November.

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In November, the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and are striking. It was a great joy to drive or walk around and see them in full flower. It is almost as if, after a very dull and confined and difficult year, this outburst came unexpectedly, bringing life and hope and joy. I hadn’t really lived in a place where this was the case before, thus making the impact more manifest. This joy is even more so as it so wonderfully aligns with the coming of the Advent season.

The mauve-purple colour is closely associated with Advent. It is a deep purple tinged with the white of Christmas. A reminder that Emmanuel, God-with-us, is continually bursting through the ordinariness of life. Life is thus transformed.

The Second reading on the First Sunday of Advent this year was taken from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. It finishes with three words; God is faithful. (1Cor 1:9).

These three words have been a constant companion for me throughout my spiritual journey. They summarise in a simple and beautiful way what it is that this gift of faith business is all about; what it is we are supposed to do and what it is we need to imitate. In these three words we come to know God’s faithfulness and are invited to imitate that faithfulness.

2020 has been one of those years where so much has happened and yet so little. It can be hard at times to see the faithfulness of God at work especially when things are difficult. My hope for you is that this Christmas gives us the chance to pause to recognise that everything we have is a gift from God and that although at times we might have thought that we have been abandoned or alone, God is faithful.

2020 has assisted us in learning the value of patience. It may not have been welcome or easy, but it is a necessary part of being human, and even more so a person of faith. Waiting is still hard.

Thankfully our model of waiting and watching is, of course, Mary. Mary, whose emptiness allowed space for God’s presence to be born; Mary whose watchfulness allowed God’s call to be heard. In her world, where women could not give witness, God invited her to witness and live out a most amazing story. Through Mary, the promise to Abraham was fulfilled, and God came to live among us. In our world, despite the barriers we face, barriers of poverty, illness, sin, fear, and prejudice, we are called to that same witness; that same emptiness; that same awareness, in order that God might come to live among us in this time, in this place, to see the world through eyes remarkably like our own.

In Advent there is an urgency, and we are cautioned to stay awake, to stay alert, to remain watchful, not so much to frighten us or chastise us, but to remind us that we might just be amazed at the God we begin to see.

At Christmas may we come to know the faithfulness of God in our lives.

A blessed Christmas to all, God is good, good indeed.

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