Rob Wardle, Cre8 Director & Community Priest at St Barnabas Church
Article for November 2015 Team Ministry Link Magazine
This year I’ve managed a few shuffles, one or two excursions down the canal towpath. I’ve not done very well but I’m not giving up, I’m always looking for something better. I love advent, and not just because I like opening calendars. I love Advent because it’s the time of year when we look forward, and we look forward in the sure expectation that something exciting is going to happen.
But it’s been dark; the nights have drawn in. I walk George the dog in the dark and I walk home in the dark. Leaves fall from the trees and blow around my feet; there is an almost continual dampness in the air. It’s dark when I go to sleep and it’s still dark when I wake up. In the last few weeks we have endured ghouls, ghosts, death masks and celebrations in ugly faces. It’s fun, but I’m glad it didn’t last. And then the beauty of All Souls; remembering those passed. We’ve lit fires to warm ourselves. We’ve remembered the sacrifices demanded by human conflict; Remembrance Sunday where the veterans get fewer and fewer. Now we need some light; we’re sorely in need of some light.
In Advent we can see it coming. Light from Light looks to us from over the horizon, from the place where death is no more. This is when I start to run, not on the towpath you understand, but my heart begins to race. I’m excited, it’s not that I want to fast forward to Christmas Day and the present opening, it’s that I am obsessive at the thought that God came to be with us, with me. I’m mad you might say, slightly inebriated, brainwashed, full of myself. It doesn’t bother me. Whenever I think about the Incarnation I can feel my heart quickening; I can’t explain it. The thought that that God took on flesh, human flesh, to be just like me and you excites me, it transfixes me, I’m in wonder. I pinch my skin to remind me hat He had skin just like me. I look at my hands and I remember Jesus hands, then I look at a baby’s hands and how beautifully made they are; and I see God, with ease. He came to be human just like us.
In Advent we go through the waiting, the expectation, we learn patience, I do need to learn to be more patient. Some of us may fast. It is the season when we remember to wait for God, to look expectantly towards God but also to search for where God reveals Himself to us. We learn from Jesus mother to say ‘yes’ when it seems more obvious to say ‘no’. And we learn to give, of ourselves.
We are now the Body of Christ, every smile, every gesture of compassion, every gift of generosity and love is conformation of God with us. When we give of ourselves, some small sacrifice, some small un-thanked gift which costs more to our heart than to our pocket, it is confirmation that God is with us. Keep on running.
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