Longing for… a reflection

A reflection on the season of Advent
Offered on November 27th 2016 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
The First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Today we begin a new year in the church calendar.
The season of Advent.
A season of preparation.
A season of anticipation; of expectant, hopeful waiting

At the 10 o’clock service we’re having a service of lessons and music for Advent where we’ll have a foretaste of the season to come.  We’ll hear the stories of Creation and Rebellion.  We’ll hear prophesies from Isaiah and Jeremiah and Micah.  Finally, we’ll hear the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist who will prepare the way of the Lord; of Jesus as Messiah.

We begin Advent every year remembering Jesus’ promise to come again.  In the coming weeks we’ll hear about John the Baptist and about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  We’ll hear beautiful images in the prophecies of Isaiah.

Today, we hear Isaiah proclaim the end of war.  Nation will no longer lift sword against nation.  They will not learn war anymore.  The instruments of war and death shall be transformed into the instruments of life and peace; they will provide food for the people.  They are the tools of well-being.

There is a sense of longing in the lessons and throughout the whole season of Advent.  Longing for Messiah, yes, because of a longing, a yearning for a better world.

I think we can all relate to that.  It only takes a quick look around to see that we live in a broken world.  When you look around, what sort of world do you long for?  For what does your heart yearn?

We talk about Advent as a season of expectant waiting, but it’s not about sitting on our hands and waiting for Christ to come and fix it all.  It’s a time of preparation; of getting ready.  Often we focus on ourselves – what do we need to do to be ready for Christ to come?  But I think it’s also about preparing the way for Christ to come into the world; into the hearts of others.

How do we prepare the way?

Advent is during the darkest part of the year.  As the days and weeks progress, it gets darker; the nights grow longer.

I suggest we prepare for the light by facing the darkness of the world.  As you peer into that darkness, what does your heart yearn for for the world?

What breaks your heart?
Go there.  Allow your heart to break so that the light of Christ can come flooding in.

Walk in that light and carry it into the darkness.

Bring the light of Christ to those who dwell in that darkness.  Prepare the way of the Lord.