Sunday 10 December 2017
Advent Season of Creation. Second Sunday of Advent. Week II Psalter.
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11. Psalm 84(85):9-14. 2 Peter 3:8-14. Mark 1:1-8.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation – Psalm 84(85):9-14.
We are called as a people.
God’s language today, spoken through Isaiah, continues to sound unusual to our ears: “Comfort my people…speak tenderly to Jerusalem…”
When I go to church, I sit in a roomful of people whom I often barely know. They are different, from so many diverse backgrounds! How can God expect me to like them all? And that is if I go to church! It is a sober reality-check to see our family, community, and nation as made up of different kinds of people, many with whom I seem to have little in common.
God talks about a people exiled to Babylon. There is a desire in Isaiah’s words for God to “put things right,” to act politically and to nourish and sustain his people in their basic needs. The words are both religious and very worldly.
But Israel’s political salvation rests on something much more fundamental, individual conversion. Pope Francis says that it is only when we ask for the grace of humility and conversion, then we can begin to find solutions to the problems of our organisations and our world.
When we ask for these graces, we empower ourselves to listen to others who are different, to include them and see them as paths to help construct much-needed solutions. We begin to look at the difference of others as a gift that helps us work together, not a problem to be solved. Instead of seeking to make a difference, would it be better to ask God to help me to listen to difference, understand it and even learn from it?
Often we speak of our political and other leaders as if they are superhuman, not just people like you and me who are trying to make their way in life and do some good. We expect them to solve our problems. But we need to contribute too.
As never before, we need to hear the voice of our more senior people in public life, full of their years of experience and wisdom. We need the views of the young, full of idealism and brimming with energy and new ideas. Pray that as a church and nation we can give space to these different voices as we pray for a change to our political culture, to become more receptive to these differences, more inclusive and thus open to real change.