The Advent Collective – 12 December 2020

A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.

I’m Tom – married to Clarissa and Dad to Hannah, Theo & Phoebe

Let me ask you a question:  Have you ever your house extended?  Or have you ever had some building works done to your home?

A few years back in my previous church we had a major building refurbishment.

At the beginning of the project I really thought it was exciting – so signalled so much change.  The beginning of a new era.

But if I’m honest there was a moment when I thought – what have we done?  This was when the whole building was gutted – right back to the bare bricks.  The floor had been removed and old wires and pipe dangled from the ceiling.

The old was gone – the present was unrecognisable – and the future?  Well that was contained in architectural drawings, engineers’ plans and in the hearts of the team making it happen.

It’s a bit like when Kevin McCloud from the TV show Grand Designs appears in the middle of a building project and starts wondering round pointing out the spiralling costs and shakes his head at the inevitable big delays and then he interviews the formerly happy couple who are now living in a caravan next to their building site.

In some senses today’s Advent passages describes a similar situation for the people of God – they’re in that place just without Kevin McCloud or the caravan.

Zechariah 8:1-8 is a deeply encouraging hope filled account of a number of prophetic sayings that the prophet Zechariah shared with God’s people.

Jerusalem is really significant to the Jewish people – and the central piece – the temple was the very epicentre of God’s presence.

The reason for their despondency was that by the time we get to the books of Zechariah & Haggai known as part of the Minor Prophets we learn that after God’s people return Jerusalem they find it a wreck – a total shell of what it was.  The most significant city to the Jewish people was decimated and the temple was destroyed.

How would they rebuild the temple?  How would Jerusalem be restored?

When faced with the wreckage, rubble and people in the land who have the touch of the Kevin McClouds about them – pointing out you’ll never do it –  it was no surprise the people of God were downcast.

But then God speaks.

In Chapter 8 verse 3 he says this ‘This is what the Lord says:  ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem.  Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain’.

God promises that he will return to Jerusalem.  In fact in Zechariah 9:9 he says this:  ‘See your king comes to you, righteous and victorious lowly and riding on a donkey’ – it talks of Palm Sunday – when Jesus will walk victoriously into Jerusalem.  It’s part of a bigger plan – God’s rescue of his people and once again Jerusalem will be front and centre.

These words dripped with hope at a time when it seemed as though everything was stacked against God’s people.

As we come to the end of 2020 – we can look back on these past 12 months and say without doubt all of us have been affected by the Coronavirus.  Whether you’ve had Covid or not – it’s disrupted the way we all live our lives.  And as we approach Christmas – it’s affected that too.

We are very used to be in control of our lives.  We’re used to getting out the yearly calendar and making our plans.  We’re used to booking our holidays & organising our lives.

It’s in these moments when our plans lie in tatters and it seems like everything is totally up in the air – in that place of deep vulnerability I think we have a choice.  We try and take control of our lives – to fix our lives.  Or we surrender our lives to God.   This in some way comes to the heart of the Christian gospel – who really is in control of our lives?

When is all is stripped away and our hearts are exposed – there’s an invitation to lean deeply into God’s promises –as Zechariah encouraged the people of God to do.

Let’s pray

Father, in this Advent season I pray that all of us listening to this will lean into you, into your promises: that you are with us; that you will come back for us; that we’re never alone.  So Holy Spirit will you come right now, fill us afresh this day.  May we overflow with the hope that comes from being so intimately close with you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.