Let’s bring into focus again what this season is about.
It is about waiting.
It is about preparing.
We do plenty of waiting.
Hope you did not wait too long getting in here!
One calculation is that we spend a total of six months over a life-time waiting in line.
When we wait in line, we expect something.
Cash from a bank machine, a seat on a bus, to be pay for groceries so we can take them home and eat........
Oh, and another calculation: about 5 months of our lives are spent waiting on hold!
Again, we do so because we are expecting something - place an order, place a complaint, get some information....
So, we’re in a season of waiting, the Advent season.
The tricky thing is: we’re not just waiting for Christmas.
We heard John’s gospel, and we think about waiting for the light to come into the world.
We think of waiting, anticipating, the Christmas celebration in 11 days.
But we also think of waiting: our waiting for something that happened two thousand years ago.
And we also need to think about waiting for a future arrival of the light.
All of this.
And one more:
waiting for, preparing for, the arrival of the light EACH DAY.
That is a funny kind of waiting, because it is not really waiting so much as seeking!
It is a very active waiting.
And the good thing of that is that we discover that we can get on with knowing, meeting, reflecting the Light, and much more, when we realize that the light is breaking through. Now.
Most of you went to a school like the my primary school. The bell rang. What do you do? Line up outside.
Then, once everyone is all very quiet in one line, that group is allowed to come into the school. Class by class by class.
But then someone did a study. Don’t know how many schools took note.... but they eliminated the line-ups. Bell rings. Come inside in an orderly fashion. Perhaps a little more challenging. But they get to their classes more quickly, and get to work more quickly. Five minutes per day. Fifteen hours in a school year.
That is the kind of active “wait” that we are called to. The bell has rung. It is time to move. It is time to seek the light now, it is time to reflect the light now.
Not just stand in line.
As seekers of Christ, we have an odd ‘waiting’ - for it is really a special attentiveness.
Attentiveness..... A word that is a distant cousin, via the Latin, of the French word attendre
Our waiting is not passive. It is active.
And so, right now, we are waiting.
Not like I wait in a doctor’s office, where I inevitably fall asleep.
Because the arrival of the light was, and is, and will be.
And if we don’t open our eyes, we’ll miss the ‘is’.
We can’t see the light arriving in our midst now if our eyes are shut.
It is a curious thing with light. We can see it most clearly.... in the darkness.
Have you ever taken a picture of a birthday cake with a good flash on your camera.... and then, looking at the photograph, you found it hard to tell if the candles were even lit, because the glare of that flash was too much?
And I remember talking to the driver of a five-ton truck who had his truck spun around by a car-driver who went through a red light – because in the glare of the sun the driver of the car missed the important light for that moment, the red traffic light. Fortunately, no major injuries, but two vehicles written off because the light was not seen in the glare.
Is that part of the problem today?
The problem for many is not that there is too much darkness to find the light.
The problem for many is that there is too much glare.
The glare of stuff
The glare of money money money
The glare of stardom - their own, or that of their heros
The glare of power and status
The glare of awesome more awesome stuff
Metphorically: The glare of fools’ gold - and fools’ gold – pyrite – oxidizes, which causes all sorts of problems.
So much glare.
So much to blind us to the real light - the light that came, the light that will come, the light that is.
I was recently talking to someone about darkness - perhaps it was one of you, I am getting forgetful.
It was another time on the Lower North Shore. Light pollution: zero.
On one particular night I was at a wedding reception when someone came and found me – this being the days before cell phones. Relayed the message that a relative of one of the locals who was visiting from Toronto had just gotten word that his son had been murdered in Toronto.
An emotionally dark night.
And a very dark night because there was no moon.
On the Coast, with dark rocks just out of the water, and with rock just under the water, you don’t use an outboard after dark. The grieving father was in the next village.
I got on my bicycle and rode tentatively to the marina. It was not easy - it was so very dark that I could not see the road, and more felt my way along. Got into my outboard, and headed out the river into the gulf of St. Lawrence, rounding the buoy and looking east I could see the green flashing light. If I headed straight for the light, I would not strike a rock. If I shifted course, I could take the propeller off the engine. Or the bottom out of the boat. Without ever seeing the rock in the dark of the night. Never have I been so focussed on a light.
And, in time, I arrived to share time and prayers with those in shock and grief.
And so it is not the darkness that hides the light.
But glare can hide the true light.
At the same time, if we close our eyes – we will not see the light either.
God’s light is coming into the world.
And to see it most clearly, sometimes we need to look in the darkest places.
We need to look for God’s light in the middle of our own grief and stress. With eyes wide open. For God’s light is there in the care of others, and in the presence of God’s strengthening Spirit.
We need to look for God’s light in situations of hatred.... for there, if one looks carefully, one will see someone who is letting God’s light shine. From inside the horrible situation. Or working to shine the light in from outside.
We need to look for God’s light in the situations of those in need around the world.... and in desperate situations, there are people from within who are bringing light. And there are people from outside who seek to bring God’s light.... perhaps it is we, ourselves, through our M&S fund who are shining a bit of God’s light into a dark corner.
We look at the darkness in the city. And we find people of light at the Montreal City Mission, the Old Brewery, St. Columba House and more. And we seek help God’s light to shine through for some child by giving our White Gifts.
I have an image of us being inside a hollow, dark, ceramic ball.
But the ceramic ball is cracked.
And through the cracks - light streams.
In the darkness: seek God’s light.
In the darkness: discover God’s light.
In the darkness: share God’s light.