December 3 (Advent 1)
As the ancient poet cried out to God, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down… to make your name known to your adversaries” (Isaiah 64:1), we too cry out for God to do something to silence the forces attacking the Church and opposing religion in our country. We might read passages about the Son of Man coming with great power and glory and even though we do not want to see everyone else sent to destruction we pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus, come and vindicate yourself and your people.” We find that the props of civic endorsement, political influence, privilege, wealth and cultural authority have been cut from under us. We might look back and recount the great things God has done in the past beginning with Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb and ask, why doesn’t God do something like that now? Instead the sins and failures of the Church are constantly being thrown in our faces so that the Church loses credibility in the eyes of the general public and our confidence is undermined. Do we burrow into the ground and live in our own subterranean tunnels, or do we revert to the language and customs of a previous age? Or is this the moment for us to learn what faith really is? Not a system of belief or a creed, not an organization or a denomination but walking on water when everyone around says it can’t be done, standing stripped bare of all decoration and tinsel content to wear only Jesus Christ as our garment, walking through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil because God is with us. If we have the eyes to see it God is present, we meet Christ in our neighbours, the Spirit is moving people to faith, hope and love; to witness and to service, binding together in fellowship and community. If God seems far away, I wonder who shifted!
- How do you respond to the idea of Christ’s return: with fear, with anticipation, with scepticism, with joy?
- How has the public attitude toward the Church changed in your lifetime?
- If this is a time to learn what faith really is, what is faith really?
- On what is your faith founded? What is the bedrock of your faith?