Isaiah 2:1-5 Psalm 122 Romans 13: 9-14 Matt 24: 33-44
When I first arrived in WA people kept telling me, ‘You must see the wildflowers’. And because everything in WA felt, feels, so huge to me, expected the wildflowers to be huge too. I was expecting flowers the size of my head and leaves bigger than my palms and instead, what I kept finding, were these tiny delicate beautiful little flowers, popping out in the most unexpected places.
This week, Craig and I set out on our first attempt at walking a section of the Bibbulmun Track. It was hot and hilly and dry and dusty…and it was hard work…but all over the place there were these breath-taking wildflowers. Every shade of colour. Every shape, just so tiny and delicate and seeming to be springing up against the odds, almost. Beautiful flowers in barren places.
And they spoke to me, over and over, about hope.
Hope blossoming in places I didn’t expect to see it.
Today is Advent Sunday – the first day of our new church year – the beginning of a new season that leads to Christmas – the beginning of a period of waiting, in the church. And what is it that we are waiting for?
Well, we’re NOT waiting for Christmas, or the birth of a baby. During advent the church watches and waits for the return of the Christ, for God to come back. During advent we are watching and waiting for the fulfilment of the promises Jesus made to return.
But, here’s the thing. I don’t like waiting. It feels too passive, too boring. And how do we know what we are waiting for? How do we know if it’s anywhere close? How can we see if it’s on its way? Because we’re not waiting for the arrival of God – God is already here – always has been, always will be – what we are waiting for is the full arrival of God’s entire kingdom.
And if we’re waiting for the arrival of a whole new kingdom, might it be possible that we could begin building that kingdom while we wait?
Or, might it be possible that it isn’t entirely dependent upon us and is already being built around us already, but sometimes we get the privilege of actually joining in? Could that be true?!
If we get to join in, that completely transforms our time of waiting. It is no longer a passive observance – it is no longer just watching…sitting around…waiting – it becomes our life’s work, our entire purpose even. Something we watch out for, and take part in, each and every day.
You see, the kingdom of God is springing up all over the place. And it is a kingdom characterised by hope. It is that hope that the day of salvation is here…and coming…that it’s something that is not just possible but is on its way.
It’s on its way! And we can see it because it is a kingdom that looks like those tiny delicate wildflowers, budding and blossoming in barren dry sand where it seems to make no sense.
It looks like swords being repurposed as ploughshares and spears being used as pruning hooks instead.
The springing up of the Kingdom of God looks like light in dark places, work for the unemployed, food for the hungry, release for those who are indefinitely detained, housing for the homeless, clothing for the naked, healing for the sick – hope for those who are just in the depths of despair.
The unravelling and revealing of the Kingdom of God among us is pure hope for today and the future. It is hope-filled and hope-giving.
And right now, right here, it looks like a family who found our church and chose it to be the place where they would bring their tiny baby to pass through the waters of baptism to join our family of faith.
Today, the Kingdom of God is seen in the visible sign that there is hope of another generation – characterised by baby Honey – there is another generation that is choosing to follow Jesus. Another generation that is saying yes to this invitation to join in with bringing hope to the world, while we wait for the true fulfilment of the promises of God.
Friends, hope is all around us and it is unstoppable. Let us spot it, let us spread it, let us be it! Amen.