We are not used to waiting these days! The incessant pace and demand of life, especially through electronic media makes us increasingly impatient and intolerant of having to wait. I know that I am not happy if my computer screen does not instantly spring into life on demand!
Advent is about watching and waiting for the coming of God to complete his work but doing so in activity and hope. During the next few weeks, the Church invites us to look towards the hope and expectation of Christmas while we too remember the darkness and struggles of winter.
The bible is full of stories of hope and expectation and all of these stories point somewhere- they all point to someone. They point to a little baby in a manger…in a trough for animal food.
We are invited to be excited for Christmas… to wait expectantly for Christmas. Yet most at all, as we wait for Christmas, we are invited to hope.
Hope is something that we sorely need at this time of year… especially this year. With war once again on the European continent, with rising bills, and high prices… for many this will be an advent without much hope…
When we speak about hope we are not speaking about ignoring all of this. Quite the opposite. Someone with hope is someone who seeks change. Someone with hope helps to build a better world. Someone with hope takes care of the people around them. And we see this in the care people have had for strangers and refugees from Ukraine and in those helping at the foodbanks.
Even when things seem impossibly dark- Hope is the fire that stirs within human hearts and lights the flame of the future.
It is hope that we see in revolutionaries and freedom fighters… it is hope that we see in people seeking justice… it is hope that we see in people wanting change… it is hope that we see in martyrs and in pilgrims… But hope rings most clearly from the heart of a child.
Children are impatient… excited… joyful… They want Christmas now!
There was once a story of a Lutheran pastor in Germany by the name of Johann Hinrich Wichern who looked after an orphanage. Many in this room will sympathise with this man because every day during advent the children would ask him time and time again… Is it Christmas yet??!! And every day he would say no not yet… So he came up with a plan! He got an old wheel and placed 4 big candles around it and 7 small candles in between each big one… every day he would get a child to light a candle and when they were all lit all the children knew that it was Christmas.
This is where we get our modern advent wreath which we still use in Church during advent and with which we lit our first candle tonight.
Children are impatient for Christmas and this time of waiting is hard for them. Yet advent is supposed to remind us that in the darkness of this world we are invited to be like children… impatiently waiting with hope… not for presents but for something greater. Not to wait for the Child Jesus but the one who is risen from the dead and coming again.
Advent invites us to recognise that even though the world seems bleak and broken at times, God is going to complete the job he started in Bethlehem on that first Christmas and continued in Jesus’ loving death and mighty resurrection at Easter… Advent invites us to the hope that Jesus can be born again in you and in me and that we are called to impatiently wait for him to come again while we make the world a better place with out hope.
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you that Jesus came to bring us hope. We pray that we might have the hope and the joy of a child as we come to you this advent. Help us to seek hope… to seek Jesus… and in this hopeful expectation to in some small way make the world a better place this winter. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.