Around it comes again this year and as I metaphorically tore up my sermon in the light of the events at the Cultha Bar in Glasgow I pondered just what to say. I read through pages of thoughts and quotes I have gathered through the years looking for inspiration and discovered it in the most unlikely of places and through it I was surprised to find that Advent itself came crashing down. That is maybe a strong statement, so let me rephrase it, I have found a new journey for this Advent.
As bitter as bile, the typesetter started the layout for that day’s jobs, which ironically happened to consist of printing two thousand bibles! And besides, it was an order from Sweden where as far as the typesetter knew, his father still lived after having abandoned his family when the typesetter was six years old. With tears in his eyes, the typesetter set the text of chapter upon chapter. When he came to the very last chapter – the Book of Revelation – he just lost it. How could Jesus ever want to come back to Earth? Here where Evil had once and for all conquered Good, so what was the point of anything? And the Bible… It was just a joke! So it came about that the typesetter with the shattered nerves made a little addition to the very last verse in the very last chapter in the Swedish bible that was just about to be printed. The typesetter didn’t remember much of his father’s tongue, but he could at least recall a nursery rhyme that was well suited in the context. Thus the bible’s last two verses plus the typesetter’s extra verse were printed as: 20He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 22And they all lived happily ever after.
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonson
And they all lived happily ever after. Is that what Advent is really all about, not waiting for some utopia to finally arrive but as a reminder to live happily ever after right now? O come, O come Emmaunel, isn’t some vain hope for the future, for God is with us right now, God has never left us, we just sometimes forget about God. God was with those people on Friday night, God is with the rescue teams, the hospital staff, those who grieve. God will be there to comfort those whose nights are restless and haunted by what they have witnessed, they don’t have to wait until 25th December for that, they don’t have to wait until Christ’s return. Advent hope, Advent waiting, Advent darkness – not sure if any of those really ring true for me this Advent. The hope is realised so no longer a hope, the waiting was over long ago, there is no darkness for even – as the Eucharistic prayer for Easter says – during Advent the glory has broken from the tomb.
Yesterday afternoon we held a vigil for those caught up in the Cultha tragedy, as part of it I lit the Pascal candle, a candle not usually lit at this time of year, a candle symbolic of new life, the Light of Christ, celebration. I know all the reasons for not lighting it on Advent Sunday, but this Advent I wanted to proclaim loudly that we aren’t waiting for God, God is already here, the Light of Christ is already shinning in our streets and through our lives, we already have the happy ever after. There is no answer to the question why, but there is to what do we do now.