Advent Reflection - Week 4 - Liberation
Having spent the first 18 years of my life in independent Evangelical churches and a couple of years in my twenties not going to church, I was confirmed as an Anglican at the age of 28. This isn’t an entirely unusual path, but it’s one which has given me a wide-eyed wonder at some of the reasons behind the more liturgical and traditional way of doing things.
While in a service recently, the significance of the advent candles was explained. One to mark the Patriarchs, one for the prophets, another for John the Baptist, yet another for Mary and finally on Christmas day, the candle is lit to commemorate the birth of Jesus himself.
This may well produce a ‘so what?’ from many evangelicals, as well as many non-believers. But for me it’s a great representation of the rich history we are part of when we anticipate Christmas. Since its inception the Jewish people had looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and the liberation he would bring. For thousands of years they had been enslaved, wandered, returned and been scattered again.
And when He came, He surprised them all. Many dismissed Him, and even those who followed Him were surprised that he wasn’t forming an army to overthrow the Romans. Instead He was offering something far more profound - the beginning of a new kingdom. A kingdom where the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace and there will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace.
For me, Advent is about looking forward to a celebration of this Kingdom. Christmas gives us the chance to remember why we’re Christians in the first place. If I didn’t believe that this kingdom had begun, and will one day be complete, then what would be the point in rejoicing this Christmas?
But it’s also a call to action. We as believers don’t just sit back, eat mince pies and wait for the Messiah! We must pray and work to bring God’s kingdom here on earth.
For the last couple of months I’ve been thinking about the Occupy Camp at St Paul’s and how we as Christians should be responding, engaging and interacting.
The camp has correctly identified that the current economic system is responsible for a growing gap between rich and poor. Many around the world and even here in the UK are enslaved by debt, poverty and the despair that come with them. They are crying out for liberation. Spiritual liberation comes in the message of Christmas – Jesus has come to bring life and life in all its fullness. But economic liberation isn’t an optional extra. It can and must be brought about through our common endeavours and Christmas is the perfect time to highlight this.
Let’s re-engage with what our scriptures say about money, power and justice and then demand that our politicians, bankers and economists pay greater heed to the needs of those whom God was born among: the masses waiting for liberation.