‘Go from your country, your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you’. (Gen 12:1)
Advent, and normally our Christmas preparations are in full swing by now. Over 2000 years the journey to the stable has become a well-worn path; we know where we are going. This year, understandably, our preparations are more hesitant. Hesitation is a good place to start.
Long ago, in a land called Harran, lived Abram. One day God called him to pack up and start travelling ‘to a land I will show you’, no maps just ‘trust me.’ With that rather peremptory instruction began a journey – not just to Canaan, but to Bethlehem and beyond. En route Abram becomes Abraham and a whole new family was born. A familiar story, but for Abram a step into the unknown. I wonder how hesitant Abram was when he first received the call.
Over the next 4 weeks we are called to take the now familiar journey from Harran, through Canaan to Bethlehem. On the way we will encounter familiar figures: Old Testament prophets; John the Baptist; Mary, the girl who said ‘Yes’. As we walk with them a few steps; let us not forget that while the road may be familiar to us, they were treading it for the first time. At times, they too had doubts, had cause to hesitate. Each persisted with his or her call; journeyed in faith; played their part in the story we know.
The journey doesn’t end at Bethlehem, nor even Jerusalem. They were looking forward to a promise. We too are called to look forward to a promise. Not a baby in a manger, but God’s coming again. Christmas is a reminder of where we have come from. Advent should be a reminder we are still on the road. The baby we look back to will return one day in glory.
This Advent we are surrounded by uncertainties and fears. So too were the heroes of the story we will once again unfold. Take heart from their example and let us step into Advent trusting God’s call.
Rev. Philip Payne
The Pew Sheet for 29th November can be found here