A woman in the borough of London where I live killed her two babies a few weeks ago. Overwhelmed by tiredness, depression and loneliness she reached the end of her tether and snapped to commit the unthinkable. A few of us were talking about this, about how it might have only taken a small kindness to pull her back from the brink – an ‘are you alright?’ or ‘do you want me to look after your kids for a morning?’
Last Sunday I gave a talkabout the nativity story in Luke 2. I talked about this poor woman and what this means at Christmas. You can listen to it all via the link but here’s a bit of what I said about Advent…
Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus – we remember the story of how God as man came to the world the first time, at Christmas, and we wait for the time when the presence of God will come and bring all injustices to an end – no more pain, no more crying, no more sorrow.
We’ve always been told the nativity story is a sad story of rejection and coldheartedness but actually it’s a story of how in the small kindnesses, the intimacies of our histories, the hospitality and generous living of those we know and don’t know, God is present.
God is present when you put the kettle on for a guest. God is present when you stop to ask a rough sleeper their name and their need. God is present when you grit the path of your neighbour. God is present in the stories you tell about who you are and where you come from.
If advent is about preparing for all things to be made right at the end of time, the preparation we are called to in this season is to exercise welcome: Where we see pain to soothe it; where we see sorrow, to console it; where we see tears, to wipe them away. Because it’s in welcome that the presence of Jesus comes to bring hope and transformation. And maybe even to save a life.