Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday Of Advent : A Light For The Patriarchs

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the start of a new year in the Church calendar. In the Season of Advent, we look back and look forward. We look back, remembering the story that leads to the birth of Jesus. And we look forward, to his coming again. Advent is a season of getting ready: in the light of what God has done, getting ourselves ready for Jesus’ return. Preparing to welcome him. In one sense, every Advent carries the hope that this might be the last time we get to journey this path...

Advent takes in the four Sundays before Christmas, and each Sunday we light candles, incrementally, to remember certain points in our story. On the first Sunday, we light a candle to remember the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – whose lives pointed to Jesus’ life. On the second Sunday, we light two candles, to remember the Patriarchs...and the Prophets, whose words pointed to Jesus’ coming. On the third Sunday, we light three candles, to remember the Patriarchs, the Prophets...and John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. On the fourth Sunday, we light four candles, to remember the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist...and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The first Patriarch was Abraham. God came to Abram, and said, “If you give me your life, I will give you my life.”

‘Abram’ means ‘Great Father,’ or, we might say, ‘Best Dad.’ But Abram was childless. Every time someone called him by his name, it was a slap in the face. Like serving a cup of tea to someone you know has unsuccessfully gone through every stage of infertility treatment, in a mug emblazoned ‘Best Dad in the World’ – not just once, but every time you serve them a cup of tea...

God said, “Let me take on the identity of Great Father, of Best Dad...” [of ‘Abba,’ the name by which Jesus would call God] “...and in return I will bless you with my identity: you will become Abraham, ‘Father of Nations’...”

And God comes to us this Advent with the same invitation: “If you will give me your life, I will give you my life.”

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