Making sense of Advent 2020

Zechariah 9: 9-17

Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion.

Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem!

Lo your king comes to you,

triumphant and victorious is he,

humble and riding on an ass.

As for you also,

because of the blood of the covenant with you,

I will set your captives free from the waterless pit.

Return to your stronghold

O prisoners of hope;

today I declare that I will restore you double.

then the Lord will appear over them…

On that day the Lord their god will save them

for they are the flock of his people;

for like the jewels of a crown

they shall shine on his land.

Yea, how good and how fair it shall be.


Reflection

This passage starts with joy and excitement and in the past this would be true of many, particularly the young, as they began to see the Christmas lights, the adverts on the telly, gazed at all the goods specially arranged in shop windows,  the writing of wants to Santa.  

Sadly this is not the same story this year.   But there will still be the delight in getting out the cribs from the attic and dusting off Mary and Joseph, shepherds and Angels but keeping the Baby Jesus safe – not yet to put in place.   is there the usual  sense of joy and excitement for you ….what are the concerns about the festive season?  do you feel motivated to put up a tree?  who are you worried about?

Our joy can be there as we look forward to the coming of Jesus into the World – god’s Gift to us to bring us awareness of the disharmony in which man lives and shows us another Path…..the way to Heaven.

Our passage continues with the picture of the king, showing his peaceful nature as he rides on an ass, not a strong horse as was used by powerful authoritarian emperors.  This passage was brought into the New Testament from Zechariah showing how Jesus on Palm Sunday fulfilled what had been written.   He rode in triumph heralding his teachings of Love, righteousness, care for others, devotion to His Father.

Follow me and you will be rewarded “the Lord your God will save you”

how do we make sense of this during the season of Advent?  For many of us we have been bewildered by what Christmas had been in the past  – the frantic shopping, incredible spending, trying to outdo the Joneses, the ‘must have’ mentality, with little thought to what this Festival is really all about.

How will your preparation this year compare with the past for you?

It is a time of darkness and in some countries very little  light.   An icelander told me “we go into ourselves and are very quiet.”  It is in the quiet that God speaks to us….the Stable shows us simplicity – Will you be able to find some quiet, some simplicity in the weeks leading up to December 24?

At the time these Old Testament words were written the Jewish people were in exile , suffering, needing encouragement.   In the time of Jesus there was Roman rule and again a longing for a Messiah to bring them freedom. But Jesus brought a message that the longed for change needed to be in the hearts of men,  to let go of materialism and earthly desires as the be all and end all.   And we today, as we prepare for the remembering of the Incarnation, we need to go deeply beyond the preparations, the lights and carols and hold deep desires for  spiritual union with the Almighty Presence manifesting in the Babe in the manger.  

How will we do this?    How do we nourish our Soul?  How do we give space for prayer?  there has to be repentance, acknowledging our weakness and forgetfulness.    the word Return in our reading has a translation also of Repent….only by placing our dross at the Lord’s feet will we have space for God to show us He is with us. 

As we read the Apocalyptic writing – a piece to nourish faith in a time of difficulty – we realise that we today are in a time of great difficulty – lockdown,  loss of loved ones, loss of work,  anxiety, fear, loneliness, for many a sense of hopelessness and a yearning for help.    the signs of God are here:  God has come through many generous dedicated people in the NHS, the care homes and the multitude of volunteers who have given support in many different ways.    God has inspired many to think of others – keeping social distance, wearing face coverings, following the requests to keep safe, contacting those on their own, showing love to those who are hurt and sad

But, as in the last days of Jesus’ earthly life, there are many who have ignored the call of consideration, who have profited from the vulnerable and tried to minimise the danger of this covid virus.  The Lord is a judge and Jesus’ parables tell us many times through ‘foolish virgins’. scared servants and someone wrongly clothed at a feast, what can lie ahead for them.     

How do you come to terms with these messages?  what prayer do you offer?

Can we pray that in this time of Advent we may deepen our Faith to be able to find ways to strengthen the Light from the jewels in the Crown so that more will see the Light and be bound by it, delighted with the Good News of God’s Kingdom and see in the Incarnation, the Christmas Festival,  a new beginning in their lives.  

How can we all start something anew in our thankfulness and desire for God’s Blessing….seeing God’s Love in manifesting Himself to become a visible Presence for us in God made man?  A Presence whose words are to be heeded and discussed and shared in our personal spiritual journeys.

A Presence who will inspire us into action in His name.

What does this mean for you?   What can you write down in a God Action Plan? 

The Light is there, as we have seen in the concern, generosity, dedication of so many;  it must not be dimmed and we must echo the Aramaic prayer “Maranatha!’ – Come, Lord!’ 

We are your flock. We are here.


A prayer by Michel Quoist

If we knew how to listen to God, if we knew

how to look around us, our whole life would become prayer.

For it unfolds under God’s eyes and no part of it must be

lived without being freely offered to him.

At first we communicate with God through words.

which may be dispensed with later on.

Words are only means.

However, the silent prayer which has moved

beyond words must always spring from everyday life,

for everyday life is the raw material of prayer.

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