Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 27 November 2011
Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
Advent is a time of preparation to enter the mystery of Christmas, the miracle of Emmanuel – God with us. It is a time for waiting expectantly. Paradoxically, it may be a time in which we connect with the felt absence of God from our lives, and realise again how little we actually yearn for God. It is a space for rekindling that longing.
God seems so elusive – wouldn’t it be nice if God could break in upon our lives with the power and presence of Sinai? Maybe not. Are we ready to be confronted by such holiness? The prophet wishes that God would tear the heavens and come down, but then reflects on how unready we would be to stand in God’s presence. If God were to do that, we’d want to be found ‘doing right’! But could we ever make ourselves ready to meet with God? God is our maker, perhaps only God can make us ready. In the words of the psalm, we pray that God will give us new life so that we can call upon God’s name and no longer withdraw from God.
As Christians we believe that God our shepherd has reached out to save us in Jesus Christ. We live in the space after that first Christmas, in the light of Emmanuel. But that doesn’t mean we are no longer waiting. We do not yet live in the fullness of the Kingdom of God. It is still now and not-yet. And so we wait for the fuller revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ in our lives and in the world. While we wait, we don’t sit around doing nothing. We have been given gifts and a task, and we are to work at that faithfully. But the task and the gifts are not enough in themselves. We keep watch for the elusive presence of God.