advent 2019 ‘generous in time’ – 3rd in the series- quick

10 Dec

quick: Advent 2019 ‘…comes quickly’ 3 in “generous in time” series

Recently I heard someone speak of a deep struggle he was going through. In his youth he thought of the future and catastrophised. Everything, all glasses, were empty.

Catastrophizing can generally can take two different forms: making a catastrophe out of a current situation, and imagining making a catastrophe out of a future situation.

But the present or future wasn’t the issue for this speaker. Now, older, his issue was catastrophically living, looking, breathing in his past. Mistakes and what ifs; this road or the other. And he can’t leave this past path. He was and is catastrophing.

And he was in this, his past, in dark hopeless despair. So, in this time lace, he is similar to Israel in the period between the last prophet and Jesus’ birth. Both were are stuck the past.

Israel was in absolute darkness for the 500 years before Jesus’ birth.

The prophetic word of the Lord ends after, with, Malachi (about 500 BCE). No more prophets or Spirit. Their is little hope, only much despair.

Israel was in disaster after disaster. All saw and experienced this emptiness, this absence of the prophetic word.

Darkness, absence, voids, silences was their embrace.

The Spirit has departed. And then, in a moment…

The Prophet Malachi, painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna, c. 1310-1311 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena Cathedral).

…the word explodes, quickly, instantly. The writer of Hebrews speaks of Jesus, his coming, his purpose here:

Hebrews 2

17 And for this purpose (our salvation ) it was necessary that in all respects He should be made to resemble His brothers, so that He might become a compassionate and faithful High Priest in things relating to God, in order to atone for the sins of the people. 18For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able instantly to help those who are tempted and tried.

The Hebrews prophet does not look ahead and see the future; he looks at the Jesus of his own recent past and and sees our (Jesus’ brothers and sisters) future: eternal salvation with a compassionate and faithful high priest. He sees Israel’s past as a quick moment leading from darknesses to light. It – Israel’s past- is not a catastrophe but a story of life and love. This past, all of it, is His Advent story.

No more catastrophes: but pure eternal light. No more despairs; no darkness; only His compassionate salvation. Light.

Jesuspromise at Advent is come and redeem: to redeem the past of Israel and individuals; to redeem the sins of our future and present. He is king, priest and prophet. He is a child, a baby: our saving hope. He is the prophetic word made flesh.

One form of Jesus’ prophetic words are his parables. And one of his most beautiful and repeated words is the story of the lost son, the prodigal.

As Jesus tells the story the father of the prodigal waits, searches the fields for his lost son’s return. The son desires to leave sin and return to his home as a servant. Jesus describes the father as running to his son with compassion...

Luke 15: 22-24

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

The story of Advent is our narrative in darkness, in catastrophe; in sin and silence. It is our story without, before, Jesus. Stuck in a Groundhog Day, in a seeming eternal and sinful past, we live as the prodigal-with pigs, without hope.

But Jesus, as high priest and Saviour, as King and prophet. He comes as a Father and a baby. He comes in a quick, an instant, moment.

And that is the first word the prodigal son hears his father speak: quick.

The father seemingly speaks it to the servants; but he is really speaking to his sons and daughters. He runs and speaks to speak with quick compassions. ‘Quick’ – my servants: the robe and sandals; the ring and the fatten calf.

The first word the son hears is not ‘love’, or ‘I love you,’ but ‘ quick’. Why is this the father’s first audible word for his son, for us?

Because we have a High Priest, the image of the Father, who desires to run to us quickly. A Father who removes our shame and clothes us as a son, a brother in his robes. We have a quick ang generous Father.

This is the story of Advent:

Our Lord is quick to come, run, be born to us.

Our Father is quick to embrace us.

Our Brother is quick to love us.

Our Saviour is quick to forgive us.

My prayer for all this Advent.

Help us Lord to see you as the Father, priest, brother and son you are.

Come quickly my Lord. Come quickly.

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