Today’s readings dare to speak in the future tense… in the face of exile and challenge they proclaim hope, comfort and presence. In our world now, we don’t always speak of the future with great certainty, we struggle sometimes to proclaim hope and presence. Times seem uncertain, often dark and bleak ahead. We say ‘if’ … if peace could be negotiated, if I am granted that benefit, if we can reduce our carbon emissions, if I can get a job, if the church can find enough money, if we can grow, …
But into this uncertainty speaks the comfort and the promise of God.
Strength beyond our strength.
Certainty beyond our certainty.
I remember once, when life seemed full of darkness and challenge, when each day seemed a little too much. And, crying out to a friend on text, I received the reply: “Easter will come”. It has been a mantra ever since. In the darkest of times, Easter – Christmas – Light, Hope, Renewal, Restoration, Redemption, Presence, Promise… life…. WILL COME.
Not if, but will.
And as soon as your heart says it, in a way, it is already being born. The future tense has a reality, a presence, that it didn’t have before.
For we believe we have a God who comes. …. God will and does arrive, will and does come. Right into all the places where we are most lost and without direction. Perhaps especially into the places where we are most lost and without direction, because it is then that we stop looking at ourselves and what we can do, and we look to God, and what God can do.
And when we act as if we believe this…All sorts of things suddenly become birthed in us. John the Baptist knows this, standing knee-deep in the waters of the Jordan, calling out his message – Prepare ye, prepare ye…. Build a highway… no really… it’s true, all can be made new. …… Comfort o comfort my people, says the Lord.
Prepare a way, even when all ways seem impossible. Because with God there is possibility beyond our wildest dreams. There is life born from the darkness of a womb, there is God born from an ordinary peasant girl. Good news! Good news! Says St. Mark. The Good news of Jesus Christ ….. What was broken, can be healed, what is lost can be found, what is trodden down can be lifted up.
A voice says, “Cry out!”. And I said… “what shall I cry?” We cry, with John the Baptist, with Isaiah…. Trust, have faith, there is a love and life and light far bigger than us, and into our weakness, it will and does come… and with it we can journey to unimaginable places.
Dare we look at our world and see it pregnant with the presence of God this season… help it to be birthed… holding up the presence of the light of the world – and preparing a highway,
A highway into our hearts, that we may be refreshed, a dwelling place for Jesus, born anew? And a highway into the world… so that all people may see him… and be lifted up - to live life more fully?
Advent is the time when we are called to stand and face into the wilderness, to acknowledge our loss and our smallness, the darkness and the uncertainty of the world. To see the stars in the darkness, and to wait that one Special Star. To proclaim fearlessly the Word of comfort, defiance and hope… The Word who comes.
Let us, like John, speak these promises into our world, let us dare to speak and act with the future tense a reality – not if, but will - live as People who expect the Lord Jesus to be born amongst us, Because when we believe – when our hearts say it… …… in a way it is already being born.
Let us dare to prepare …. For he comes