First Sunday of Advent




††††††††††† What do we expect of the future?


††††††††††† Perhaps, we hope it will be a continuation of our present situation, but with improvements. As it is, we go to bed tired but fairly secure. We wake up pretty well rested. We carry on with our family life and work, day after day, and look forward to our holidays. We have our hassles, but most things go fairly well. We wouldn't want it to be any worse, but we would like it to be a lot better.


††††††††††† The newspapers thrive on harrowing stories, but we can escape into make-believe entertainment. We actually enjoy a spot of TV violence. Third World people, and even friends and relatives, get into all sorts of strife, but what others suffer or can look forward to doesn't affect us much. We want it to stay that way. ďThey" ought to do something about it, without bothering us or damaging our interests.


††††††††††† While we think this way about the future, "we" hope never to be involved in Middle East wars or African famines. We donít want to be caught up in unemployment at home, or to see Australiaís level of prosperity go down. Keep things as good as they are, at least. Changes can only go against "us". "We" are those who are safe. All we want from the future is to improve our standard of living, and to secure our assets by every possible means. Elections are won on promises of a brighter economic future.


††††††††††† No one can afford to think this way about the future. Very few people in the whole world can afford this luxury for much longer. To those who think and live this way, the word of God is very threatening. The scriptures must always remain a closed book to them, because both the Old Testament and the New Testament see these people as the losers. They are blind to the signs of catastrophe. They will be swept away. Their future is destruction.


††††††††††† There is a bright future, according to the scriptures, also for us who are fortunate now, but it is in God's hands. Belonging to God's future requires that we receive life and everything in it with heartfelt thanks for the gifts received. We accept food, clothing, shelter, health, education, employment, peace, everything, so as to share them with one another, especially with anyone who has less than we have, or a greater need. The vast majority of those with greater needs live outside Australia.


††††††††††† There is a bright future for the oppressed and the abused: they will have justice done to them. Blessed are the poor in spirit: theirs is God's future.


††††††††††† In God's future, there will be no more training for war (Is 2:1-5). Can we believe it? Can we risk believing it? Surely, it's a dangerous delusion, and yet it is the belief and hope of both the Old and New Testaments, the revealed word of God.


††††††††††† Advent is the time of this kind of hope in the future. Whoever needs this hope are Advent-people. Advent makes no sense to the self-satisfied.


††††††††††† In those dark moments when we are discouraged, in mourning, threatened by illness or death, fearful of world events, we are invited to believe that there is a bright future for us. God has it in hand. God strengthens our faltering hope. The future belongs to him, and to those who look to him for their salvation.


††††††††††† God is never resigned to the way things are, especially when they are unjust. He is always making a new beginning with us. God will not rest before he sees that all is good, very good, with his creation. Let's make sure that his idea of good and our idea of good are not poles apart, but that they coincide in Godís will and plans for all people.