Sermon 10th December 2023

Evensong at St James’

Romans 15: 4-13, Luke 21: 25-33

What does Advent mean to you? Is it a season in it’s own right or just the inevitable pause, the holding of breath before Christmas? The time when life gathers pace as we prepare for the big day – shopping, planning, Christmas card writing, menu finalising?

Advent is traditionally a time of waiting, of preparation but perhaps not in the way we now culturally use it. It is similar to the season of lent in that we are given the opportunity to prepare our hearts, to focus on Jesus to linger and ponder, as Mary did, on the enormity of what is about to happen. So this evening we are going to do just that.

We are going to stop and allow ourselves to breathe, be still and open the door.
I’d like to invite you to use your imagination, to relax and see where God takes you as I walk us through a scene. I appreciate this might be knew and possibly a little uncomfortable but I encourage you to try and let go and let God.

Before we begin, take a few moments and, if you are comfortable to, close your eyes, preparing yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you or what you may see in the picture. Imagine you are sitting in a small room, in a house that is surrounded by farmland and woods.
You have come here to seek the quiet and the calm.
The busy life of work, family and today’s world have made you feel anxious and unfocused.
You know you need something; you need some time to let your mind be quiet and your heart open.
Quiet and open – those words sound so peaceful and desirable but unreachable.
You’ve bought books to read and a journal to write in, but you can’t seem to do anything but sit on the chair and absorb the silence, even as you feel restless.

As you sit in silence, you hear a faint sound like a knock on the door. Your heart races, Who knows I’m here? I need to be alone, you think.
The knocking becomes louder. As much as you want to stay in the room, something moves you to go to the door.
The knock comes again, but it’s a soft knock.
As you approach the door, you see a light streaming under it.
“Hello? Can I help you?” you say without opening the door.
A gentle voice says, “It’s me. I’ve been looking for you”.
Something deep inside stirs, but you are confused.
“Who are you? Do I know you?” you say.
“Yes. But we have not talked in a while. I’ve missed you,” he says.
You open the door. Standing thee is Jesus. His eyes look at you with such tenderness. He carries a small lantern that gives off a warm, bright light.
You stand there, unable to speak at first, allowing yourself to take in his presence and his light.

You speak to Jesus. What do you say to him?
How does Jesus respond to you?
You invite him into the house. You sit and tell him of the restlessness you feel.

As you talk to Jesus, a wave of peace and calm washes over you, like the warm light streaming from his lantern.

“Rest. Be still. You opened the door. Now let me take care of you,” Jesus says.
You close your eyes and let his words embrace you.
Your heart is at peace, and your mind is still.

When you open your eyes, Jesus is gone. But sitting beside the chair where he sat, is the lantern, still emitting that warm, bright light.
You smile and rest in the glow of the light.
Advent – waiting.
Perhaps not just for us, but perhaps for Jesus too as he waits for us to open the door.

Let us pray, Dear Lord, as we approach this season of Advent help us to be still enough to hear you knocking. Help us to dwell in the mystery of your incarnation, God made man, as we look forward to your coming again this Christmas time. In your name we pray. Amen

Rev’d Kia Pakenham, 10th December 2023

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