And so like the rest of the church throughout the world we are waiting for that child to be born again in our hearts, in our lives, in our communities, God with us. And so the preparation is a spiritual one, we turn to God to put ourselves in order, much as a confession before receiving communion, in order to be ready for the coming of Christ in our own lives. The Christmas festival is symbolised by light, a light shining in darkness and the coming of hope. The story of the coming of Christ is a vehicle, a carrier of hope for us all to feed our spirits and our imaginations.
On this the third Sunday of the season of Advent we traditionally remember John the Baptist and his call to repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia and it means a change of direction. We are not concerned with a superficial change. We are being asked to stop doing what is destructive.
The passage in John reminds us of the symbiotic relation of God to the incarnation. This is God with us, born as a human being suffering as we suffer. Today this message challenges us to live lives according to gospel values rather than those of the society that surrounds us. God given hope is not optimism, or sentimentality, based on ignorance or naivite. It is based quite simply in a trust in God., the God who brings light into darkness. and speaks to us.
This Christmas there will be no hope in the noisy shopping rituals and the exchange of presents if there is not also a humbling, a waiting, a vulnerability, to Christ’s coming again, the perspective of God with us-Immanuel, can change us, forever, completely. For many of us we need to feel the brush of angels wings and the whisper of hope this Advent, this waiting time, to give our lives to Christ, knowing our own inadequacies and failings and by the presence of the Holy Spirit living a new and changed life.