Advent is a season in which we journey together towards Christmas. With one eye we look back to the first coming of Jesus, the long years of preparation and promise, hope and disappointment, and the arrival of God’s Son, our saviour. With the other eye, we set our vision upon the second coming of King Jesus in glory and the renewal of all things in Christ.
For Joseph and Mary that first 100-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a tough trek. They faced rough paths, steep hills, the threat of robbers, and violent attacks not to mention the impending arrival of the baby.
Journeys are fraught with danger as recent and tragic events in the English Channel have reminded us. The world is on the move as millions seek refuge from despotic regimes, conflict, poverty, and the consequences of climate change, risking their lives for the dream of a better life, or freedom from threat and tyranny.
No doubt many issues both political and personal drive migration as they did for Joseph and Mary. The account of the Christmas story reminds us that God shows up, in-person and meets us even in our displacement from what is safe and familiar. What appeared to be an officious political instruction was reframed and redeemed by the God of history as the means of his salvation. There was a great happening, the journey of God through space and time to redeem and reign over his creation. This roadmap would not be thwarted by political expediency or unexpected circumstances. Salvation could not be thrown off course.
That serves to remind us that God can meet us anywhere on our journeys, whether we find ourselves physically in a very different location from where we imagined or living a life very different from our hopes and dreams. Yet God meets us in the journey: as that medieval spiritual saying has it: “God loves to draw straight lines with crooked sticks”
As we step into advent this year with anxieties and worries about our world, concerns about the possibilities of new variant infections undermining our Christmas plans be assured that God seeks to meet us and to remind us that his great journey from cradle to cross, to crowning glory, has been completed and we seek and long for his great and final advent when he arrives in glory.
On Sunday some of us will look at Mary’s story whilst others will be looking at God’s great finale in the book of Revelation. They are parts of the same story of God, intervening in our world to do what we cannot do for ourselves
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, incarcerated in a Nazi prison cell awaiting his execution wrote on Nov 21, 1943
“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other- things that are of no real consequence- the door is shut and can be opened only from the outside.”
God in Christ has opened the door on his side lets step into his great journey again this year.