The People Who Sit in Darkness
have seen a great light...
Copyright November 1999
All Rights Reserved
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and forever. AmenWhatever the experts say, most of us feel that we are approaching a new age as the year 1999 comes to an end. Traditionally the church in this season is looking towards the Second Coming, and preparations for Christmas. Personally most of us are feeling fragmented, living with lists, priorities, personal dilemmas. Wanting perhaps, a quick solution to all our difficulties..
But what a terrible world we look out on. Terrible, trivial and banal. Filled with injustice, heartache and personal deprivation. Filled with violence on every level - spiritual, mental, moral, emotional and physical. Perhaps it has always been so. Yet the Calendar the west seems to live by and calls 'Christian' celebrates 'two thousand years' of the Christian Era. But how deep has that Christianity gone ?
Traditionally we reject 'the world, the flesh, and the devil' at our baptism. Yet the church now in many places uses the economic and political assumptions of the world, cannot afford the mercies of intimacy - for fear of being 'unprofessional '- confines its attention to the flesh by denouncing sexuality and forgetting that it is denigrating the material life source itself.
The position of women, children, and problem solvers: the ill treatment of those whose values are concerned with belonging rather than belongings, with self possession rather than possessions, with respect rather than respectability, with honour rather than with image, with sanctity rather than with separation - all these things suggest a life and a society which is unrooted and which has lost its heart in more than one way. We measure time by clocks and forget the cycles of life and the seasons, we do not cherish the earth who mothers us.
Traditionally Christians 'expect' Christ to come in force to set things right. Yet that force itself is a presupposition not of the Sanctity of God, but of the world, the flesh and the devil. Justice without deep and particular understanding cannot be just at all. We call on the Lord and we demonstrate hell, hierarchy, power and wealth. And hell answers us. The power of truth and of light is far otherwise, and far more costly.
When I read the books of the Bible, when i think about the Gospels, I have to say that if Jesus were to follow the pattern of the good news he proclaimed and lived, He would be more likely come again as an aboriginal girl child in the suburbs of Sydney, than to come with an armed and winged guard. Has he not said, I was sick, I was poor, I was in prison, and you visited me not ? This is the two edged sword He always bears. We pray for our own escape, but do not remember the world he loved enough to die for.Learn Justice, Learn mercy. .The woman in the picture is fragmented, assaulted by the sharp points of darkness and injustice from every angle. Yet here too is light. It is in the wilderness that refreshment and insight come. It is the rough places which become smooth, it is in the darkness that our longing for light is answered.
This Advent, let us reject the ways of the world which are so cruel and unnatural. This Advent let us reject the fleshly ways which honour greed and despoliation. Let us rejoice in what is life giving. This advent, let us reject 'the devil' which carries us willy nilly and unthinkingly acceptable to society. Let us learn forgiveness and gentleness and deep generosity.
Let us embrace the still small voice of the fragile and vulnerable midwinter baby who is a sign of hope at the darkest hour, let us embrace the still small voice of the refugee child of Bethlehem who loves and saves the world. Let us call to that which calls to us, and so become ourselves as we are meant to be. Let us prepare to welcome Him who teaches us to become, in our own, and other's darkness -
Angels and Ministers of Light.Blessed is the match that is consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart's secret places.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honour's sake.
Blessed is the match that is consumed in kindling flame.