‘Amazing Grace….’ Reflection for Advent Sunday, 28 November 2021

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:25-36

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Advent has become a counter cultural season. Society glides seamlessly from the solemnity of Remembrance Sunday into the Christmas festivities. Any sense of there being 12 days of Christmas preceded by at least 24 days of Advent is lost. It’s not only climate change that has altered the rhythm of the seasons; the rhythm of the liturgical season is out of kilter too. Yet Advent is important because it gives us space to acknowledge our ever-present need of God. We can reclaim Advent whilst simultaneously enjoying the fact that the Christmas lights are on in the city, the tree is up in Discover DeCrypt and we will be carol singing for Christian Aid next weekend.

During Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us. Yet Advent also reminds us that we are waitng for Christ’s return at the end of time. The early Church thought that the end of time, the end of the world, was soon and in our Gospel for Advent Sunday, Luke uses figurative language to describe it. Language aside, the truth is that one day life for us all will come to an end. We will all die which is a frightening thought. But our story will not end there. For in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have the promise of hope for eternity.

As Christians we believe that at the end of time, Christ ‘will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead’ (Nicene Creed). Judgement is often interpreted as a chillingly doom-laden concept (interestingly doom is an old English word for judgement). But throughout the Christian tradition, time and again we see that God judges with mercy and with love. For it is a timeless truth that God’s forgiveness and God’s grace always endures. It is through the gift of God’s grace that we and the whole of creation will be redeemed.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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