Mark 13v37 ‘What I say to you, I say to everyone: Watch!’
‘The Unluckiest Burglar in Hendon’
One of my teenage hobbies was Astronomy and (glutton for punishment) I used to spend freezing nights out in the back garden watching for meteors (shooting stars). This involved sitting in a chair well down the garden on a raised concrete plinth with my neck craned skywards. Imagine my surprise one night when I heard the sound of footsteps down our drive and shortly afterwards a burglar testing the handle of our neighbour’s back door. Unluckily for the burglar my dad at the time was quite senior in the Metropolitan Police and said Astronomer and Dad apprehended the burglar shortly afterwards down the road trying to get into someone else’s house. It’s hard to say who looked more upset after the incident – the burglar for being caught or the District Patrol Car beaten to the boss’ house by a humble Panda car in the area!
Watching and waiting is very much a theme for the season of Advent, likewise the idea of readiness for the Master’s return whenever that may be. This year ‘Waiting’ has a poignant resonance with millions of people waiting for a longed-for vaccine to save their livelihoods and return life to a semblance of normality. For many it is quite literally ‘The Hope of Salvation’ which for Christians we more normally associate with the coming of Jesus.
Waiting is very often a dreary monotonous experience especially when ‘salvation’ seems a long way off. Ever since Barclaycard promoted ‘Take the waiting out of wanting’ we have got used to obtaining what we desire at shorter and shorter intervals. Next day or even same-day deliveries, faster broadband to download programmes etc, etc. What we often fail to grasp is that faster does not always mean better. Email now means many workers are expected to be on call almost 24/7, sometimes even when on holiday and getting somewhere faster does not always mean we arrive more relaxed.
Covid-19 has made many people re-examine their lives and their priorities. It has reminded us of social and health inequalities and for some has had life-changing consequences. The season of Advent also has life-changing potential when it asks us ‘Who are we really waiting for? Santa Claus or Jesus?’ And is the Jesus we wait for the real Jesus or just a figment of our imaginations blurred in our minds with the hope that life will return to how it was before? Unfortunately, this is the one thing we are not offered by the coming of Jesus!
This year has made enormous demands on Christians and non-Christians alike. Even the most outwardly resilient have become weary and fatigued. And we still have some way to go before things return to any kind of normality. But and it is a huge, ‘But’ we do have a hope of salvation that is just not pharmaceutical but centred in a person, the One born to save the world. As a former Prime Minister once said in a very different context, ‘Just rejoice!’
With love to you all
Will & Pat x