The Pevenzie children undertake a harrowing sail into darkness - “smooth, solid blackness.” The elusive darkness increasingly drains them of hope and fills them with a growing ominousness - anxiety, fear, even despair. They begin wondering if they will ever escape the haunting dark or have a future beyond this bleak reality. But just as all hope seems to be lost, there comes a sign - an albatross. “It circled three times round the mast… and called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words; though no one understood them... except Lucy. Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, ‘Courage dear heart,’ and the voice, she felt sure was Aslan’s and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”

Many of us, perhaps even the whole world, at some point over the last nine months, have felt this weight of the darkness.  And now we also have entered the darkest (and soon to be coldest) time of the year. Yet, there comes a sign - in fact many signs, if we, like Lucy, have ears to hear - and eyes to see: light, hope!

What signs of hope might we recognize, be grateful for and celebrate even now? And how might we learn to pay attention even in the dark, to - the Spirit circling around us, whispering, breathing God’s Presence - in our neighborhoods?

Perhaps we might begin with tuning into the cadence of God’s giving, our receiving which began at the dawn of creation - Eve and Adam enter life as God’s guests and friends, and God gives them everything, including their place. Our posture once more is as the receivers when God gives Himself to us, in flesh and blood right next door; and invites us to “take (receive), eat and drink”.  Finally, when there is no more need for sun or moon, in the city where there will be no night, at the Second Advent, we will receive again, as guests robed in white at the banquet feast of the King.

In the Christmas story, there are many who are attuned to the light and receive God’s gift, the good news, the Christ - from whom, we have much to learn.  Mary’s radical receptivity and pondering; Simeon and Anna’s patient attentiveness, Elizabeth’s mutuality and the shepherds’ responsiveness. Perhaps their stories might reorient us, and invite us to notice, listen and hope. Their postures as opposed to those of the rulers of that time, like Herod and his advisors, were not about being strategic, making plans or being in control. On the contrary, they simply, which isn’t to say easily, became attentive and responsive to God at work ahead of them, in them and through them. 

These are the postures required for the church right now. Can we let go of our agendas, our preconceived notions, anxieties about what this should look like, and where this is going? Can we, like the people in this world-changing story, discover again how to receive and respond to, rely on - and rest in - the light?

After all, “God once said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness!’ And this is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts to let us know that his own divine greatness is seen in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 ERV [Gen.1:3, Isa.9:2])

What we are hoping is that many of us will journey together through this season in order to help one another do just that, learning from and encouraging each other. 

God's Peace to you this Advent Season, The ABHMS Discipleship Team and the Missional Commons