Homily for Advent 1A

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Come, Lord, and cover me with the night.
Spread your grace over us
as you assured us you would do.
Your promises are more than all the stars in the sky;
Your mercy is deeper than the night.
Lord, it will be cold.

The night comes with its breath of death.
Night comes, the end comes,
but you come also.
Lord, we wait for you day and night.

An Advent prayer from Ghana.

We might well have begun Advent a week ago.
We and all the country know something
about hope and expectation.
About the Advent theme of light in darkness.

There are some families who know only too acutely
the shock and disruption we heard in our Gospel,
with ordinary life turned upside down
by a sudden emphatic interruption.
How do we make sense of this last week,
of hope delayed, and then it seemed, dashed?

I’m not about to give you any glib answers.
Did God will those 29 men to die at Pike River?
Did God want to deprive parents of sons,
women of partners, children of fathers?  No.
Our journey today is precisely that of the first Christians,
who struggled to understand why Christ did not return soon,
and end persecution, and sin and suffering.

And the words they heard
as the season of Advent began to take shape
were those we’ve heard this morning:
“Keep awake” Jesus urges us.

Advent is a season of mindfulness,
of readying ourselves, of penitence.
Of reminding ourselves
that we do not know the hour or the day,
that, mortal, we will die, but are invited to live here fully.
Without reticence.  Without reservations.  Without regret.

Advent holds together the beginning and the end.
The coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us,
sharing all human sorrows and joys,
vulnerabilities and griefs
in the Child born in Bethlehem,
taking the Cross that all dying might be redeemed.

The coming of Christ as Judge and culmination of time itself,
the prism through whom all loving, living and dying
makes sense,
and in whom every human life finds its place,
whether years be few or many.

The idea that this hour is unexpected
would have us live, present to our hopes & our longings,
sharing those of God’s very self,
that war & poverty & disease & injustice & ungodliness
be transformed.
That in this, we too are transformed and conformed
to the Christ who comes among us,
born that we might know a life that cannot die.

Advent, while just four short Sundays,
as the world outside gets hectic and harassed,
is a state of mind.
A new start to the Church’s year,
our pilgrimage with Matthew’s Gospel,
a journey onwards, not a four-stop destination
but an invitation to make right, as much as making ready.
To watch, and to be wakened to the life that knows no end.


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