advents’ unexpected journey

2 12 2012
an unexpected journey

an unexpected journey

Advent is the season of unexpected journeys. You can take precautions against such things of course, like not listening to anybody called Gandalph, or having an emergency 50p sewn into your pocket. But epic and unexpected journeys just keep coming. And I don’t just mean hobbits, though they do have a habit of appearing during advent.

At advent we look back to God’s epic and unexpected journey through history, beginning with awkwardly naked people in a fruity garden, and taking in wife-swappers, murderers, inheritance-stealers, foreigners and hairy fox-burners, the rise and fall of kingdoms, the liberation of slaves, epic adventures, tragic failures, Boney M and prophets marrying prostitutes. An unexpected journey indeed.

Like the Jews before us, we look back at what God has done. As they looked back to the Exodus as the marker and definer of their faith, so we take in that story and the story of Jesus’ new exodus. But advent isn’t about looking back for its own sake. We look back to in order to look forward. As God has done things in the past, so God will do new things in the future. And that is the case in the epic over-arching story, and in the individual story, whether person is Elizabeth or Mary or Nora..

a young gandalph

a young gandalph

Nora? I want to tell you about Nora. That’s not her real name though she is real. She is a lady from one of our previous churches. An extremely shy old lady, one of the few times her eyes would light up is when she told the story of coming to faith, during a Billy Graham mission in the 1950’s. This was the marker and definer of her faith. We often encouraged her to ask God to do a new thing in her, but she was happy with the memory she had, not believing God would bother to do a new thing in little her.

One day we (unusually) did a call for people to come forward if they wanted a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. I really hoped she would come. She was sat at her usual chair, right at the back. She didn’t come. Until the very end of the queue. I can’t tell you my surprise or joy seeing her shuffle up the aisle with her stick. I prayed for her. She went to sit down. It was only in the next few weeks she told us that she had felt that same feeling in church that day as she had had 50 years ago. God had done a new thing in her. She had a new story to tell. She had a new smile. 

This is the unexpected journey of advent. Re-telling old stories to remember that God will give us a new story. Old ladies making the journey up to the front to be anointed. Or giving birth to John the Baptist.

God is doing a new thing. It’s an unexpected journey. And we go together.



One response

3 12 2012

the Jews have a great tradition of story telling, of gathering together to recall and tretell the stories of how God has led them in the past and of his faithfulness in adversity. Maybe we Christians should learn to do the same, and parhaps Advent is the place to start, as we remember that journey and also our own various journeys.

Advent also tells us about perspective. We are so caught up in the spirit of the age that we forget God’s perspective of resurrection and eternity. Not to say that God isn’t interested in our here and now, he most definitely is, but that there is a greater picture and we are a part of that too.

So much of God to reflect upon and learn about and give thanks for, and God is so much God that there is always mroe and we can never fully understand it. Its probably easier to talk about women bishops,

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