1st Sunday of Advent

The season of Advent has begun. This is a time when we prepare for the birth of Jesus. It is time of the year when we can reflect and pray on what is important. “Come let us walk in the light of the Lord” we relate with God and one another in the ordinariness, the sacredness, of each day, enlightened and loved. Offered below is an Advent reflection by Fr Trenton Van Reesch, I pray that you take some time during this Advent season to pray and “consider how to stir one another to love and good works.” Hebrews – SEC scriptural theme for 2022. Jesus is love and his actions always led to good works. Let us be inspired to follow in his name and his nature in all that we do.

“Walking with us…

In the Year of Walking Together, which runs from the 8th August 2022 to 8th August 2023, there lay a central purpose, resounding in a particular way as we enter the Season of Advent.

The focus seems simple enough yet is one which so often escapes us. And that purpose is this: to be reminded (and we always need reminding), that the God of Jesus Christ, is the God who walks with his people. Emmanuel – God is with us!

Archbishop Christopher has himself said that this year is not necessarily about doing more things, but rather to recognise what is happening already, in our midst, in our parishes and in our hearts. And much is happening! To say otherwise would be to say that God has somehow lost interest. And again… many do say this too!

Of course, we can and must as the Church always walk together. Yet when the human heart insists on walking alone, without at its centre, the God who created and became flesh for us– the journey soon becomes one without coordination, without direction, purpose, and true joy. For as Saint Augustine taught his own flock, not only is Christ the home to which we are going, He is too, the way by which we go. (Sermon 123, 3)

We often speak of it as the mystical ‘marriage’, whereby the Word takes flesh and God becomes one of us. Not symbolically, nor figuratively, but literally. This is what In-carnation means, and this is what we prepare for in the weeks of Advent. In Jesus, divinity and humanity become one flesh. God no longer remains at-a-distance, but willingly comes shockingly and scandalously close.

For many reasons there remains, powerfully, today, this hesitation about the Love of God, and an increasing hesitation to belief that this God actually walks alongside us, both literally and spiritually. But the fact is, He does!

Advent prepares us to recollect this truth anew. Even if we need to learn it over and over, day after day, that’s ok… in fact this is indeed what the disciples did before us, and not only were they forgiven, Christ built His Church upon them. And so to you and I. The words of Augustine resonate once again:

“He who does little, but in a state to which God calls him, does more than he who labours much, but in a state which he has thoughtlessly chosen: a cripple limping in the right way is better than a racer out of it.”

Advent is a time then to prepare our hearts once more, to truly accept and embrace the mystical marriage between heaven and earth, which we – wounds, warts and all– are joyously bound up in! This is the Christmas story. The journey of a God who descends from above to walk in the shoes of his creation. Of those he has made his sons and daughters.

Of course, Christmas celebrates a particular moment in history, 2,000 years ago. Yet the danger is leaving it there in the past. The Incarnation is never relegated to a historic past. It is here and now. The God we celebrate has come close in flesh and blood… and not any old flesh and blood, but our flesh and blood in 2022. It is flesh of God born for you.

Soon enough we will hear again, the genealogy of Jesus’ ancestors– a text often met with a wince. So many lines of unpronounceable names, many say! It is however, one of the most beautifully revealing and eye-opening texts given to us. These lines capture, intensely, the unimaginable magnificence of what has in fact occurred in the Incarnation. Consider the names which feature in the genealogy from which Jesus comes… people whose lives are coloured by debauchery, adultery, abuse, murder, lies, anxiety, and vengeance. Yet within a wider graced history, Jesus’ incarnation finds its way through this same sin and woundedness. And that is truly something magnificent! In the Christmas story,

God’s association with sinful humanity is apparent from the outset. This truth we are drawn to contemplate and live, in these days of Advent.

Sin is not something God wishes to condemn us for; a lie we habitually fall prey to. Rather God sees sin for what it truly is, a burden; a burden he desires, from deep within his eternal Being, to lift from us, that we may truly live!

I wish you truly a blessed season of preparation, walking and growing in the knowledge and love of your God and his mesmerising, transforming, and accompanying love for you.

Fr Trenton- Administrator of St Christophers Cathedral