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So it’s the 2nd of December and already I’ve been at two Christmas lunches – at this rate, you’ll be killing the fattened priest calf for Christmas Lunch!  I’m sure I’ll survive if I manage my meals correctly.  Yet already schools are putting their Christmas shows on, they’ve already had their Christmas Fayres and people are getting ready to go to the Christmas Panto or watch their TV family films.  By the way, my OCD Catholic friend from Lanarkshire was going a bit crazy the other day saying that the Pope – the Pope! – had put up his Christmas tree and it wasn’t even Advent.  Well, he can calm down now because now it is Advent and the readings today prove it.  They all talk about God coming, about Jesus Christ coming and how prepared we should be.  Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come!”

 

 

 

But it was the Old Testament reading – rather than the Gospel – that really struck me this week and I spent some time in prayer reflecting on the Isaiah reading almost exclusively.  In today’s reading, there are dramatic images “oh that you God would tear the heavens open and come down” and then, talking about himself the prophet said “we had all withered away like leaves” and “we were like unclean people with filthy clothing.”  As we trundle around like headless chickens in the crazy season of commercialism, today’s readings speak powerfully to us to get our act together and take stock of our lives.  At the same time, of course, there are encouraging images in today’s Isaiah reading:  “You are our Father and Redeemer” and then “you are the potter, we the clay, we are the work of your hands.”

 

 

 

What struck me about today’s readings from the Old Testament was that it presented a different image of God from other parts of the Old Testament.  Often we get the image of a vengeful God, testing his people and catching them out in their sins.  Now in this image we have a gentler image of God the Father who – we are led to understand – has it in His very nature to break into our lives.  It led me to reflect on an image of God the Father that was very prominent in my recent retreat.  I think I told you some six Sundays ago about a problem I had in imagining God the Father.  The Gospel that day said that the greatest commandment was the “love the Lord your God” above all things.  I told you that I had a problem in imaging the Father – no problem in imagining Jesus walking the earth or the Holy Spirit moving my heart.  But God the Father?  I took that problem and question with me on retreat.  My prayer Guide – Sarah Young – invited me to reflect on the Creation story and how God the Father created me and how that made me feel.  So I went back to Duke Street Hospital where I was born and to Ardgay Street in Shettleston where Mum & Dad had set up home.  I saw that God the Father had been involved totally in Creation and has been keenly watching me ever since.  As it were calling me back constantly to that innocenece and that beauty of my original Creation, calling me to cast off the things, the attitudes that hold me back from the best of me.

 

 

 

I feel that that is what God is calling you this Advent to do – go back to your original Creation.  Find the best of you and let God the Father be born in you again.  So that God can renew His love is you.

 

 

One of the great phrases of Advent is “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”  My understanding is that God is DESPERATE to come to you, to come to your family, to come to the homeless and the needy, to come to the world bringing peace and justice.  God is desperate to come!  It’s US who need to tear down the barriers of our sinfulness and weakness, us who need to let God in!

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