Advent offers us an opportunity to be re-formed. Re-formed into the image of Christ in the world. Re-formed into a community of support and encouragement set out for the benefit of those who do not attend. Re-formed into the people of God. But why, how, and where do we do that? Well, I use the term Re-formed intentionally. We are re-formed, which is not about starting something new- but about a homecoming. Re-forming is, at its heart, about taking already existing pieces and bringing them back together- to cause them to form again. A causing, a forming, which is of God alone. A God who comes to us in Advent and asks us to prepare.
The prophet Isaiah, which opens our letter, features heavily in Advent. They are so prominent because of the prophetic vision and nature of his writings of the coming messiah who will restore the fortunes of Israel. While the authorship of the whole book is contested in places, it is believed that it was written about the return of Cyrus the Great and the subsequent end of the Babylonian captivity. More simply put, it was about the release of the people of Israel from their disconnection from their lands. From their true selves, which is still relevant to us today.
While we may not feel like we’ve been disconnected from our lands, we may be carrying a sense of grief at the loss of what was because of the pandemic. The years we missed family gatherings. The dinners, births, deaths, memories which we were unable to make- memories which are part of how we inhabit a place in the world because they help us make meaning of the world. One way to deal with these emotions is to ignore them, move on and forget the pandemic ever happened. However, I wonder what it might look like for us to admit our grief, our worries, our challenges because of the pandemic together? To admit all of what we wished for but never got. To admit all of the dreams and aspirations we missed, not to wallow, but to prepare ourselves for how Christmas will change us this year.
It will change us because of how the church continues to prepare us for Christmas in this season of Advent. To prepare us as this world gets busier, to choose to slow down and create room for the coming of Jesus. To prepare ourselves as this world gets noisier, to choose quiet and create room to anticipate Jesus. All of which opens awareness of time within us- both our present time and the time yet to come we know as Christ’s second coming. A second coming we hope might come more quickly than ever before given our current challenges, yet it is not yet here. So why bother preparing for something that isn't going to change? Because it is always in the small things done with Great love, that God enters into our lives and world time and time again.
Join me this advent to make community, build this parish, and serve our neighbour, as we think and dream about what it might look like in God's time to be re-formed, to be put back together, as a living community of hope on the edges of UBC. To be re-formed just like Isaiah promises us in Advent, to be brought home to our truest selves. And as we do, I invite you to make a special gift of your finances, in gratitude, towards the expanding ministry of our parish. A parish which continues to serve the isolated, feed the hungry, tend the sick and proclaim the Good News of Christ crucified, died, and risen, together.
Will you join me this Advent?
these lands upon which we worship as the ancestral, cultural, traditional and unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people from time immemorial.