Sunday 9 December 2012
Two of my favourite readings will be heard in this Church over the next couple of weeks. My first experience of reading at St Martin’s was 40 years ago when I read Isaiah 9 ‘The People who walked in Darkness’… Next week we will hear ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice’ from Philippians which I read most recently at my mother’s funeral.
It is a challenging Advent for these readings. The world at the end of 2012 can feel like a dark place with little to rejoice about. Peace in Gaza is fragile; here the Chancellor has warned of 5 more years of austerity, many Anglicans are in a slough of despond over the shock of synod’s vote which further delayed approval for Women Bishops. Meanwhile, I work for the BBC and we have had our fair share of dark moments in recent weeks.
Think back a few months and the story feels a little different. Our city was alive with the joy of the Olympics and the inspiration of the Paralympics. London believed in itself and silenced those who doubted that we could triumph as a world city. In my own organisation some horrid things may have emerged but this is the same BBC that delighted the nation with the greatest broadcast Olympics ever. Memory is short and darkness is powerful.
Paul calls us to set our minds on ‘whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report’. When my mother died we wanted to focus on all that was good in her life and, yes, rejoice through the tears. This Advent we are called to do the same and Isaiah gives us the reason: ‘They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.’
So as we prepare for the coming of Jesus we seek forgiveness for our wrongs, we pray for a better world but we focus on the light that shines in the darkness. To take our Advent theme, rejoice ‘He is coming, ready or not’.