Walk Gently……. God - with - us
Nearing the end of Advent - a time of joyful preparation for the great feast of Christmas. A waiting, longing and hoping, already-but-not-yet time. The Liturgy invites us into a world where the urgency to prepare for the longed-for Saviour is palpable. And we may identify with the longings expressed by our ancestors in our sacred texts: the longing for the way to be smooth, for the path to be clear, for justice to reign. To find some relief from the anxieties of the times. These are echoes of the deep timeless hopes we all carry for our lives: for peace, for joy, for all to be right with the world. To be forgiven.
For some, it heralds a period of intense loneliness. A time when memories of a past, happier life are strong and shoulders are cloaked with a longing not just for what was before but for who we were then. And for some of us, life just goes on. The daily burdens remain: illness, suffering, mourning loved ones, financial strain, relationship worries - their weight the same regardless of the season.
In the midst of this diversity of our various lives we are called to take the opportunity to invite people once again into the world of the Emmanuel, God-with-us.
In that great story of redemption and hope, Les Misérables, the character of Jean Valjean reflects that to ‘love another person is to see the face of God.’ And this, I suspect, is what we see more clearly at Christmas time. In Jesus, we see the face of God. And when we sit at a table at Christmas and we look at the faces of God among us, when we remember those for whom we mourn, we know that this celebration of the birth of Jesus means that we do not walk alone, that the stone is always rolled away and that the world is a graced and holy place because God is here.
So, let us walk a little gently over the last of these sacred Advent Days and open our hearts to allow Jesus to be part of every busy, messy step. And on Christmas night, may our voices join with the voices of the angels and the shepherds and sing, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord is here!’