Grace and peace to you from God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
As we begin the new liturgical year may the newness of Christ fill you with hope, love, joy and peace.
Over the next four weeks we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, who was and is and is to come. We have a wonderful prayer series being posted through our WhatsApp and Facebook pages and I encourage you to engage with this material.
In this season we are reminded that we live in the between times, the now of our salvation and the not yet of its complete fulfilment.
We are also participating in the 16 Days of Activism against violence against women and children. This scourge in our country needs to be seriously dealt with and these daily reflections will enable us to grapple with the complexity of the sinfulness of society and the need for us to carry the issue to God in prayer that results in action.
Jesus said” I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. So be as wise as snakes and as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 CEV.) Various translations use the words wise or shrewd and innocent or harmless. Here, Jesus is calling us to a way of life within the darkness of this world, and as our Collect for this Sunday (Avent 1) says, “give us grace to turn away from darkness to the light of Christ.
If the Gospel is to be preached in our lives, if our salvation is to lead to the salvation of others, we must acknowledge that the incarnation of Christ has not changed the world, it has not yet dispelled the darkness, as John 3, 19 says, “And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light because their deeds were evil. “Thus the fact the God is at work in the world and the fact that for 2000 years the crucifixion and forgiveness, salvation, the second coming and the hope, the joy and the peace has been preached and yet the world is still in darkness is not a surprise to God. God is (as we see in our reading of the Old Testament) disappointed with our failure (as the world) to turn to God, our failure to turn from the darkness, even within the church, within our families there are failings, sin and brokenness. But God is forgiving and patient and continues to draw us to Him and out of darkness. Thus the Kingdom is here but not yet fulfilled, it is in your hearts even when it is not evident in the world around you. You are called to keep burning, remain watchful and faithful and diligent, do not tire of doing good.
Jesus perseveres, He continues to pour out His love into our hearts and draw us home. He continues to call us to faithfulness and to obedience, the obedience required to follow His instruction to go out and in wisdom, courage, gentleness, boldness, with integrity, hopefulness, joy, simplicity, faithfulness and forgiveness and in vulnerability, serve the King of Kings. Jesus’ choice of words in the snake and the dove are filled with metaphor, and some days we even feel that the world is so against us that we don’t have a leg to stand on, but we continue in this valley of the shadow of death and darkness, this confusion, this violence, this dishonesty, that is all around us, God sends us out in the power of His Spirit, He sends us into business, education, manufacturing, policing and civil service, and we go with a purpose. That purpose is to shine the light of Christ into that very darkness, that purpose is to be a candle! It doesn’t matter how small a light is, it always dispels darkness.
John 1:5 says that ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
And so dear friends. Let us not walk in fear of what is happening around us. These are indeed dark times, but we are called to persevere, and may our hearts remain on fire, may we accept that we are the remnant, and that Jesus is at work in us. Our faith is not just in uplifting slogans and catch phrases. Our life in Christ is not just about escaping hardship. We are called to live out our days in the context of our time, but in the hope of the Kingdom that has been established but is yet to be fully revealed.
In the words of St Paul, may you receive encouragement from God today, to remain faithful to your calling.
For in Him you have been enriched in every way, in all speech and all knowledge, because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore, you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Cor 1:5-9)
Indeed, our God is faithful, and God will not fail you!
Love and peace