Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 2 December 2012
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14;
Advent is the time for getting ready for the mystery of Christmas. But it is also a time for waiting for God in Christ to come again. Whatever the original motivation for placing Christmas on December 25, it makes for powerful symbolism here in the northern hemisphere. The days are getting colder, shorter and darker. And then, just when we begin to feel that the light will disappear entirely, we turn the corner at the winter solstice. In the darkest time we celebrate the light of Jesus’ birth. More cold and dark lie ahead, but spring is coming.
Jeremiah prophesied during a very bleak period in the history of the People of God. The world as they knew it was crumbling around them. The political and religious institutions which anchored their lives were on the verge of extinction; their king and ruling elite were in exile and their temple about to be destroyed. They quite literally experienced themselves as God-forsaken. It was as if the angry sea was roaring about them and heavenly bodies were crashing down around their ears. But Jeremiah reminds them of God’s promise to David and looks forward to the coming of a righteous king to rule them.
Sometimes we think of waiting as dead time, frozen in limbo when we can’t do anything much useful. But Advent invites us into a different kind of waiting, an anticipation that is like living on tiptoe, looking forward but in a way that transforms our present. Because we know what the King is like – the loving Jesus whose steadfast obedience to God shook the powers of his day and sowed the seed for their eventual undoing – we know how to live with an expectation of his will and his way breaking into our lives.