Reading the news these days is an increasingly sobering experience.
Many things that seemed safe and certain have become uncertain as we negotiate the interminable, tortuous loops of the Brexit process…
Working people are not earning enough to feed their families, so that many of the clients at our foodbanks are not those without work but those on low wages.
We hear that if we don’t act decisively NOW to address climate change, it will very soon be far too late – and yet when politicians attempt to encourage us to change our approach to the earth’s resources, people respond with angry riots…
The signs of our times are decidedly depressing.
And those of which Jesus speaks don’t seem to be much better.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that so many people seem to
pend their lives anxiously scanning the news for each and every hint of disaster. Today’s gospel positively encourages it.
But is that ACTUALLY what Jesus wants of us?
It’s Advent – the time of watching and waiting…but should we wait with fear or with hope?.
Listen to Jesus…(you’ll find it’s often a really good thing to do)
Now when these things begin to take place, STAND UP AND
RAISE YOUR HEADS BECAUSE YOUR REDEMPTION IS
DRAWING NEAR!"In other words, however many people scour the news for evidence that Creation itself is destined for disaster, God made the world for a different purpose, and is faithful in bringing that purpose about. Apocalyptic texts (those looking forward to the end times) take a serious look at everything going on in the world -- all the suffering and fear, all the fireworks and skirmishes between the powers that be -- and see within them all the true and final destiny for all Creation.
So the message of today’s gospel is
When you notice all these disasters in your life and in your world – DON’T panic.
Though the odds may seem stacked against you, this is not the end of everything but the beginning of redemption.
An online conversation about fig trees this week reminded me of the fact that though we notice buds in the spring time, they actually grow during the previous summer and are set in the autumn, waiting through the cold winter until the warmth of spring wakes them to new life. So even when all looks dead, pent up life is just waiting to spring forth.
Even where there seems least hope…where all the signs point in a very different direction.
Remember, it’s all too easy to misread the signs.
As we begin another Advent, this season is itself is a sign.
A sign for our beleaguered church
A sign for our war-torn, despairing world.
Christ is coming!We need to remember that for us as Christians Advent is always experienced in the light of incarnation.
Though we recall those who awaited the Messiah through centuries of Old Testament history, our waiting is qualitatively different.
We know that Christ has arrived… we celebrate the 'time of waiting' in the knowledge of the God who dwells with us. Thus we celebrate Advent within the context of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter! We know, on one level, the end of the story…though we continue to look anxiously to see how it will end for our planet, for the whole of this world that God loves so much.
But we know one truth.
Christ is coming soon.
We proclaim this week by week
“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”
“When we eat this flesh and drink this cup we proclaim your death Lord Jesus, until you come in glory”
The signs are very clear.
We look not at a dead-end, a cul-de-sac, but at a cross roads.
The point of God's intersection with us….the moment when our human time meets with God’s eternity… the day of resurrection!
But as we live at this point of intersection, we need to be alert to recognise the signs that tell us not just that the Kingdom is nearly upon us, but that it is already here
Remember that fig tree, that bore its buds for long months before the conditions were right for them to spring into new life.
Hope may seem dormant but Jesus urges us to "be on guard," "be alert," "stand up and raise your heads" so that we don't miss out on all the wonderful things God is already doing, or forget to look out for those God has in store.
So this Advent, let us celebrate hope in all its elusive beauty
Let us cling to the clearest sign of all, the sign of the cross, where Love demonstrates for now and for eternity its power over all those other signs that scare us most
And let us celebrate together that foretaste of the Kingdom, a banquet spread for all God’s people.