This year there has been a lot of waiting: waiting for the next Government briefing; waiting for a period of lockdown to end; waiting to find out whether the vaccine will work, when the vaccine will be available and who will be able to have it and, ultimately, waiting for an end to the coronavirus. And, in Advent, we now enter a period of waiting in the church calendar. Not only are we waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, albeit in a very different way this year, we await the second coming of Christ too, although none of us know when that will be.
The past few months have been tough year and for some this has meant family illness, bereavement, job loss or being furloughed. And, alongside the suffering, have come many questions. As Christians we are not exempt from suffering, and our life isn’t always comfortable, but God has promised to walk alongside us. He also calls us to challenge things and structures that need challenging.
As we light the Advent candles in the approach to Christmas, we think of love, joy, hope and peace. I believe that whatever the circumstances we do have a hope and that this time has caused all of us to reflect and, perhaps, to become more outward looking. My prayer is that when Covid-19 is something of the dim and distant past, all the good that that has come out of it, such as maybe a heightened awareness of the needs of others, support for the poor and marginalised, will continue to flourish, develop and grow.
Over recent days I have been reading a book entitled ‘Against the Grain’ written by Garth Hewitt, a singer, songwriter, priest, author and activist. It is a mixture of stories, theology, wisdom, music and humour underpinned by a desire to make a difference in the world, God’s difference. And I would like to share with you a prayer that I found at the end of the book, the source of which is unknown, but which I have decided I am going to use in my personal reflection throughout the period of Advent.
Make a difference in the world
May God bless you with
discomfort at easy answers
half-truths, superficial relationships,
so that you will live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression and exploitation of people,
so that you will work for
justice, equity and peace.
May God bless yob you with tears to shed for those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation and war
so that you will reach out your hand to comfort
them and change their pain to joy.
And may God bless you with foolishness
to think that you can make a difference in the world
so you will do the things which
others tell you can’t be done.
Christmas is going ahead. We will be celebrating the birth of Jesus; Jesus who came to change the world and who is in the midst of this with us. I pray that you will have a blessed and joyful time. And please know that my prayers are especially with those of you for whom this will be your first Christmas without a loved one.
Take care and God bless,