Advent 1: Come, Emmanuel…

Today is the first day of advent.

Here on TFT we notice things like that because they might become roads we travel, if we let them. If we decide to walk them…

You might like to walk this one in company. There will be a post here each day heading towards the uncertainty of what the feast of Christmas will bring us this year. I intend for this journey to include lots of guest posts from writers/artists/friends because all long journeys are best made in companionship. (If you want to contribute to this journey, drop me a message.)

This advent will be my mother’s last. She may not make the whole journey, but I would not put it past her to see in another Christmas. I say this because this is the background to my advent journey. It gives an understandable sense of urgency, of vitality, of woundedness and a bitter-sweetness to each moment.

In these circumstances, the Emmanuel of God is not theoretical. It is not theological. Death and dying can be neither of these things. I say this not as an attempt to sell you a God of the last gasp, but because in these circumstances we come up sharp against the pointed truth of our own being.

But Emmanuel is first and foremost about one thing; hope. I feel this inside of me as if the hand of a God was resting gently on the small of my back.

This is what this series of writings and happenings will be about – or at least I think so. I have no plan, except just to keep walking forward in to the great wide open unknown, trusting that we walk towards love.

Emmanuel.

It means ‘God with us’ of course, but what does that mean?

What does it mean to our personal situations, right now? Is the best we can hope for some kind of sticking-plaster God who serves up ancient platitudes from haughty distance?

What does it mean to our world situation? To our damaged planet? To refugees forced out on to open sea? To yawning inequality and grinding poverty?

Emmanuel.

God with us.

The Shalom of God that passes all understanding.

The Shambala of God.

The kingdom/revolution/insurgency of God.

Perhaps these ideas, which came to us as opaque mystery, are simply not to be explained or contained. They can only be walked towards.

The fruit of the spirit is peace…

.

After the rain squalling

And the bombs falling

After the back stabbing

And the tongue lashing

After love is betrayed

And dreams disarrayed

When the knife cuts and slashes

After sackcloth and ashes

Comes the peace

.

After the tumours

And cruel vicious rumours

After bodies broken

And evil words spoken

After guns cease their shooting

Troops no longer jack-booting

With the grave trodden down

And the trees turned brown

Comes peace

.

Even after the failure

Of life-long labour

And after deadlines missed

After the getting pissed

When the pressure’s done mounting

And it’s all over-even the shouting

When the race has been run

In the setting of sun

Comes the peace

.

When anger burns out

After faith turns to doubt

When we give up on walking

And wolf packs are stalking

When the money is spent

Safety curtains are rent

At the end of all coping

Even Polyanna’s done hoping

Even then

Will fall

My peace

.

3 thoughts on “Advent 1: Come, Emmanuel…

  1. HiChris, thank you for moving and ho eat post and for the stunning poem …. I would love to contribute if I may. Thinking about you all, especially on this particular advent journey with your mum. Ali

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