On this fourth Sunday in Advent we are invited to share in the joy of those who recognised and realised the truth of God’s coming. They proclaimed their songs of joy amidst and despite the realities that confronted them. For Mary this required costly and sacrificial acceptance; for Simeon it meant believing in what his earthly eyes would never see; for a group of Shepherds, declaring that salvation had dawned amidst the most chaotic of human circumstances. Our world presents us with many reasons to despair; we lament the harm and suffering that human beings seem capable of inflicting on one another; we witness abuses of power in every sphere; the resources of Creation are relentlessly exploited, unfairly shared and often denied to those whose need is greatest. Our joy is not found by turning out back on such realities and our security does not lie in escaping their consequences. Rather it is to recognise deeper realities that prevail even in the midst of the worst expressions of this world’s evil.
Another flame defies the darkness Casting its light amidst shadows of despair,
Bearing faithful testimony to a joy that prevails;
Unquenchable, even amongst the gloom and frailty of human circumstance. We who have glimpsed the light of God’s coming;
Are no less called to bear the weight of this world’s strife.
Yet ours is a joy that is no mere consequence of earthly circumstance
Dwelling deep within, made complete by knowing Emmanuel, God with us.
And though our treasure may be contained in vessels of clay;
Encased in the fragility of human existence;
Our mortal souls remain locked in hope of eternity.
And we rejoice in the truth that one day this treasure will be revealed.
And so we prepare and wait for God’s kingdom coming;
Within us leaps hope, when the signs of its dawning appear
We seek to cast its light in every place of darkness;
Until that day when every eye shall see its glory.
© 2016 North Western Baptist Association