St Andrew’s has a tradition of beautiful worship, and it has been such an enormous privilege for me to join this community and preside at the altar for our first Eucharists together. I sometimes think we become so accustomed to the practice of worship that we have stopped noticing what a radical and counter-cultural activity it is to leave our homes and physically gather, sharing in words of ancient liturgies and praying together. To meet together regularly, sharing around a simple meal of bread and wine, and declaring that “we are one in Christ”, creates a new reality in a society built on individualism, consumerism and competition. In our time and place there are few spaces where we share common ground, either literally or metaphorically. Much in our society is driven not by what serves the common good, but by what makes money or secures bases of power and influence.
As we step into this season of Advent, the themes of waiting and hope speak a much-needed word. We recognise in Advent that Christ is always coming, and we are light bearers wherever we go, bringing the promise joy, love and peace. So many long for connection and community, and for spaces where individualism and self-interest do not determine the way we relate to one another. I spoke at the commissioning service about con-spiring: breathing together.
We are in times that I believe desperately need the conspiring of the people of God. The Church finds itself on the margins at just the time when there is widespread doubt and anxiety about the capacity of humanity and human society to live with respect, generosity and compassion towards one another and towards this fragile planet that is our home. People have nearly unlimited access to information and communication, and yet report a loss of meaning and greater loneliness that ever before. The politics of fear continue to build walls between people, and the divide grows between those who have resources and opportunity and those who seem to have to struggle for everything. Our public spaces are not common ground that consider the needs of the most vulnerable but are viewed in terms of their potential for profit. To all of this, the Gospel breathes a powerful and liberating word.
But we know we also wait- wait for the fulfilment of what has begun in us. We begin the Season of Advent also with our patronal festival, the Feast of St Andrew. Andrew the fisherman was clearly waiting in hopeful expectation. Sometimes we wait without fully understanding what it is for which we wait. We don’t know Andrew’s hopes, but we do know he responded quickly to the call of Jesus, working alongside his brother Simon Peter, and all the other disciples throughout his ministry. The Spirit does not call us in isolation, nor demand us to do great things on our own. This time of pregnant expectation is the perfect season for us as we conspire together, waiting on the Spirit to reveal what the New Year will bring and the ways that together, through our lives and by our prayers, we may be co-creators and heralds of the coming kingdom in this space, this time.
May the peace of Christ be with you this Advent season and always.