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Getting our act together

Advent confuses the tenses that we use in our language; past, present and future, as we wait for what has already come and celebrate what has not yet arrived.

The trouble we have in trying to relate with God is that in the life of the divine there is no time, so there are no tenses in the eternal existence, just an eternal and a now, and God dwells in the now.

To us who are formed in time and space that is really confusing. To make things harder, God also has an amazing plan, the centre of which lies in Jesus, who, long ago, became flesh and entered into time.

This means that the eternal entered time so that we, through him, may enter into the eternal, and Advent is the time we look with longing for the coming of the Eternal One. This is what we are looking forward to, a second time when the eternal will enter into time.

Popular culture would have us believe Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus as a babe to Bethlehem. However, this is not the case, as he has already come.

Though we celebrate, and celebrate again what has already been given us, our present longing is centred on the future coming of the Lord in glory! 

If all eyes turn to Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth to the redeemer, it is for the same reason we focus on the other mysteries of his life, because they reveal the one Lord, redeemer and judge, who is yet to come.

It is our contemplation of the birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection of the Lord which sustains our understanding and therefore our longing.

He is coming as he promised; what must we do? I think we already know.

“Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight. …And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”

It is like getting our act together. Advent is about waiting, but not just hanging about waiting, like we do for a bus or train, but an active let’s-get-ready-for-this waiting.

When John the Baptist tells us to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight—he means for us to straighten out what is crooked or wrong in our lives.

If you have a very important person coming, you don’t want them to have to deal with ditches, rough patches and obstacles on the road. You want a smooth path for them to travel.

And so we have to be really serious about this. What are the obstacles, ditches and rough patches in our lives? Often it is between people. Think about the people you need to straighten out your relationship with during Advent. This is preparation time.

It is no use saying, peace be with you, and later fighting with your sister, ignoring your brother, not saying sorry to a friend you hurt, holding a grudge against your dad, not wanting to listen to your mum.

It is Advent and we’re waiting. And as we wait let’s check the list—who do I need to straighten things out with? How will I show love, forgiveness, caring and healing? And do it before Christmas comes.

 l Diocese of Sandhurst Bulletin