Sunday, 29 November 2015

Advent Shadows

It's Advent Sunday, and I started the day grumpy. I've been poorly for the past month and the antibiotics are taking their toll while not winning over the infection. Yet. They will. So we decide to get some of the advent stuff out and do home church, which is so lovely as it's been a while since I got to church, but I then take my grumpiness out on the Adventurous pair and feel rubbish. When every movement hurts, takes the breath out of you and is just this huge great struggle it can be so difficult to just be nice, be calm, be the loving mum they need. I'm sorry, dear ones, you were so gracious at my grumpiness and did what you were asked with concern and love. I am blessed with you.

But then Adventure Bloke sorted this little home church for Advent Sunday and it just took me to a different place, a place beyond me and my gripes and my pain and fed up-ness. We talked as a family about what Advent means (no, not just for chocolate, important though that is, obviously.) About how it means anticipating the coming of Emmanuel - God with us, about waiting for light to break through into the darkness. There seems so much darkness at the moment, in all the far places of the world, so much of people's inhumanity to others, so much pain. It's hard to look around and see where the light is, where is that breaking through? It feels as if we live in a time of perpetual advent, perpetual anticipation, and of course, we do. We live in desperate waiting for the fulfilling of God's promise, of Jesus coming back and of all being made new, made right, with no more suffering, no more crying, no more pain. But while we are waiting - while we are in the now and the not yet, we can glimpse things from the not yet and soar with hope as we remember the promises, remember that God is trustworthy. God spoke through the prophets, as we remember this Advent Sunday, and God's promises were fulfilled in Jesus. We can live in the hope, rather than the fear, the chinks of light rather than the cloaking darkness. I long for the day when that light is all consuming, like sun on our skin, almost too much to bear, but for now, I'll live through the shadows and the pain they bring, and when the light penetrates, soak it in and live in it.

My pain won't go away. I breathe in, breathe out, and it's there, snaking its way up my body, consuming me, at times prompting tears. I don't know why. I don't know why it won't go, but I remain convinced that God is in here, in the midst, which is exactly what Advent is all about. It's about Jesus getting in the mess with us - no staying away for the Son of God, no looking down from afar, but instead experiencing our humanity in full, suffering included, so very much included.

I'd encourage you today to live with the shadows while glimpsing those rays of light, breaking through like sunshine after a storm. Hold on to them, in the knowledge that one day they will dispel the darkness - that one day, 'the dawn from on high will break upon us,' that we will one day be free of the pain that binds so tightly. And that the freedom we can experience in the here and now can be so very deep. Keep on walking, dear ones.

And do forgive my grumps when I see you. :-)

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