Bishop Robert F. Morneau, in his book Fathoming Bethlehem, wrote:
“Advent is a season of faith, a gift that resembles music in its invisibility. Yet for that, it is no less real. For beyond the wisdom of philosophers and all academicians, faith is in the land of a radical conviction of God’s redeeming love. Faith is not always steady on her feet. Given our desire for certitude, we do seek assurances and evidence. Doubt is not necessarily a stranger to our souls. Blessed is the person who can still laugh and blush on this long and arduous journey back to God.”
The scripture readings and hymns of Advent are based on faith that God will send deliverance for God’s people – deliverance from the sins which entangle and destroy. That faith was based on the belief that God’s creation – the world, humankind, and all living things – are good and have come from the goodness of God. And in the created order God endowed humankind with extraordinary abilities to look after the life given by God. Great gifts are not always cherished, and the recipients of great gifts are not always grateful. Carelessness, selfishness, destructive anger can mark the behaviour of those who have benefited from God’s generousity. God-honoured people know that divine intervention alone can prevent total destruction. Ungrateful, irreverent humankind can unleash devastation. Through the long centuries, prayer was offered to God for such intervention and, in “the fullness of time”, help came in Jesus of Nazareth, God’s annointed son. Jesus came in human form to show humankind how to live as God’s beloved, and how to care for God’s gift of creation. Still humankind is stubborn and proud and too frequently can insult God by evil deeds and thoughts.
In every age, people of godly faith believe that God does not “desire the death of the sinner but that the sinner should repent and live.” Sometimes it seems that holding onto such a faith is against all odds. Throughout the ages people who have kept faith in God have repeated the stirring definition of faith set forth by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11.1)
At Advent, the Church gives thanks for the One who lived in our human midst and showed us God’s deliverance. Jesus promised to be with us always to the end of time. We claim that promise, and we renew our faith that in God’s good time Jesus will return to our midst.
“Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radical the night of the waiting world.
May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him.
May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the minds of those who find him.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.”
Bishop Robert F. Morneau