Our new Church Year has begun with our celebration of Advent Sunday last week. We have begun a new journey of Faith on a well travelled road; a journey of reflection and expectation. We will journey this year with the Gospel of Mark, a book built around the arresting conviction that there is no keeping God at a distance. The writer of Mark’s Gospel asks us to reflect on where God is to be found, and suggests that God is not to be found in the expected places: in heaven, in church, in special and magical events. It is not that God is not in these places, but that God is not confined to these spaces, and that these may not in fact be God’s favourite spaces. Now there’s a thought!
Mark’s Gospel, the Good News, is that God is in the ordinariness, the everydayness of life.
I am not sure I want to meet God in the everyday; I suspect I’d be more comfortable keeping God for those special moments in life, when I need God to be GOD. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with God being in the midst of a family disagreement, or in the intimacies I share with my wife. I am not comfortable with God being around when I succumb to road-rage, and share a few choice thoughts with the taxi driver who has just – suddenly – stopped in front of me. Am I comfortable with God being “around”? I’m not so sure.
But I find myself asking, “God, where are you?” Where are you when the person I love is murdered violently? Where are you when I NEED you? Where are you when my loved one is ill? Where are you when natural disasters kill thousands? Where are you when war wracks our world? Where are you when the collapses of national economies make the world sneeze and catch cold? Where are you when famine and civil war overtakes our continent? WHERE ARE YOU, GOD?!
“I am around ...”
Hope and Expectation
God is around, in our midst, incarnate, with us. Advent is lived in the expectation that God will act because God has acted. The incarnation (God born in human form in Jesus) took place over two millennia ago, and seemingly paradoxically – believing as we do that God is already with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit – we prepare for his return. Our Church Year is based around the re-enactment, the remembering of the restoring acts of God in history. It will again, but unique to the present context, remind us that God is with us. And so as we prepare this Advent: what are our expectations; what is our hope? There is always the temptation to demand that God act as we want him to act. The challenge is to allow God to truly be God, and to open our lives to that reality, and to seek God in the brokenness of our lives and society, in the everyday, in the ordinariness of life.
Christmas & New Year
If the speed with which this year has sped by is any indication, Christmas will be here in a blink of an eye! And the New Year will be in swing before we know it. Our Parish Christmas Tea was a huge success last Sunday: a little early, perhaps, but an opportunity to come together as a community before we all head off in different directions for the Christmas break. For those who will be around, please join us for our Christmas Carol Service on Sunday 18 December 2011 at 6pm where we will explore something of the history lying behind some of the better known Carols. There will be the traditional Crib Service at 6pm and Midnight Mass at 10pm on Christmas Eve, followed by a said Christmas Mass at 7am and the Christmas Family Eucharist at 9am on Christmas Day. If family or friends are visiting, please bring them along! For those travelling over this period, please drive carefully and responsibly; and return safely to us in the New Year.
A very blessed Christmas and New Year to you all!