Sunday, November 14, 2010

Signs of Hope All Around

From The Messenger Advent Christmas 2010

What’s wrong?” is a question that I hear all too often. Whether it’s a questions being asked by a member of the parish or a member of the clergy it’s disheartening. Whether it’s a question being asked about the world or the church it’s disheartening.

I think that there is a better question, “what’s right?”

What’s right with the world, with the church, with my neighbour, with me? These are the questions that will help us move forward with a sense of purpose and a sense of the presence of God in our lives.

In a very real way, this is exactly what the season of Advent is all about, accentuating the positive, holding on to the affirmative and not settling for less than the fullness of knowing the presence of God in our lives and in our church.

As the length of daylight grows shorter we light candles, we decorate our houses, putting candles in the windows and lights on the eves to remind ourselves that the darkness never wins. Light and goodness always win. That’s “what's right” with the world and with the church: our ability to choose light over darkness, hopefulness over pessimism, joy over grief, love over hate.

I freely admit to having a particular dislike of pessimism. It’s way too easy, you don’t need any particular skill or education to be pessimistic. You don’t need to make any effort or ask anyone’s opinion to be pessimistic. Pessimism, in fact, has no place in the Gospel we proclaim. Hope, on the other hand, requires skill, knowledge, effort and community, all the things the Church is really good at. Hope enables us to ask really important questions like, “what’s right?”

The daylight begins to lengthen around the 21st of December, and just about when it becomes noticeable we celebrate the birth of the Light of the world—Jesus Christ, and just after that we celebrate the New Year. It is as if, God in creation begins a process of lighting the world, we celebrate it with the birth of Jesus Christ and then a new year begins. It’s wonderful, it’s true and it’s a glorious cause for celebration.

Obviously, over the years we’ve caught on to this trend of the growing daylight and, in anticipation, we celebrate Advent. We celebrate the hope, peace, joy and love that is so much a part of the Christian proclamation of what’s right with the world, with the church and with us.

What’s right with us? Well, not everything, but enough for us to celebrate it and to let it shine so that others are drawn into its warmth.

It’s not fancy sermons, glorious carols or colourful stained glass windows that really tell the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we relied on these things we would surely be in a hard way. It is the hope, peace, joy and love we express with every fiber of our being as we go about life.

The light of Jesus Christ is in each one of us, our purpose is to let his light shine in all that we do, so that all who see us will know the transforming love and justice of God.

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