Two advents

There are two Advents; the one we know about and is thoroughly written up, especially in Isaiah, and the one we don’t know but we are racing towards.

This second one is where we are involved and, in a real sense, have a say. We are not just in the stands, watching, but influence the unfolding of this Advent by the decisions we make. The timing is up to us: the sooner we succeed in making this world in the image of the One who designed it, the sooner that One will be able to ‘gather’ all his people into the peace he has planned for them.

But we keep postponing this universal community of peace. We run away from the implications. One story in the news is of an Iraqi family driven out of their home by the IS who sought refuge in a camp where they had to stay for seven years. They struggled to get to Europe and a better life only to be hounded on the Polish border, sent back to Iraq. The report ends, ‘and there is worst to come.’

The Isaiah reading for the First Sunday in Advent says; ‘I will make a virtuous branch for David who shall practice honesty and integrity in the land.’ It is poetic hidden language but it expresses the times that are coming when God, working with people, will bring truth in relationships. God cannot do it alone. Maybe the people of the first Advent who were looking forward to a Messiah, thought the Messiah would do everything for them. We know they had a narrow focus on Israel. Few had any thought for the ‘gentiles’.

But the first Advent did bring us a Messiah and that is what makes our hearts rejoice this 25 December. Yet this Messiah can do nothing without us. The whole plan is that we wake up and take steps in our lives to bring about community in the world. Sending the Iraqis back to where they came from, washing our hands of them, is certainly not building community. What should we do? Well, it is easy to be an arm-chair strategist and there is no avoiding the problem. But some kind of follow up of the lives of these people, some kind of support for them in their own countries to help them get settled, would be better than sending them back in despair.

We cannot wait around for this second Advent. It calls for our full engagement in doing what we can. If this sounds starry-eyed, one thing we know: if we decide to do something we will succeed, one way or another, and we are not alone. Our five loaves and two fish quickly grow.

28 November 2021        Advent Sunday 1C    Jer 33:14-16   1 Thess 3:12-4:2       Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

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