Being a minister at this time of year is an odd experience. Preparing services that fit the advent season whilst making plans for the period from Christmas to Easter. Yesterday I was talking about Palm Sunday, this morning I was thinking about how changes in society affect the church and this afternoon I’m grappling afresh with advent promises.
Advent is becoming one of my favourite times of year with its reminders of what Christ’s coming entails. A promised ruler who will be no petty king or oppressive empire builder but one in whose hands the weakest will be safe and the oppressed released. A reign in which old hostilities will cease, in which the scattered are gathered in, drawing back those who have drifted off. The one who is with God from eternity past comes forth revealing grace and truth.
In thinking about changing culture I was reminded of Leonard Sweet’s suggestion that post modern and digital culture can be understood to be Epic where E=experiential, P=participatory, I=image rich, and C=connective. This is not the moment to discuss the merits, or otherwise, of Sweet’s proposal but it strikes me that advent fits this well.
Advent invites us to:
Experience the God who is now and the not yet. The growing familiarity of ritual with readings, candles and hymns magnifies the sense of God’s promise and presence.
Participate in the faith. The themes of advent incorporate the great doctrines of the Christian faith but not as propositions to believe but as truth to live and incorporate into daily living.
In an image driven culture we are reminded that the one who comes is the image of God; God in the flesh.
Connecting with the community of God’s people, advent is an invitation to respond afresh to Christ’s invitation to be children of God.
O Come O Come Immanuel