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Framework of Christmas – first Sunday of Advent in Aotearoa

In Advent, we build the framework of Christmas
together we put up scaffolding
signalling something’s being renovated
something new is being created.

We look forward to the familiar mystery:
newness and home-coming, joy and good will reborn.

Each week, we add to the construction:
shine a light in the valleys of shadow,
lighting the candles of hope, peace, joy and love.

In the season of Advent
we hold in our hearts those for whom this is a time of sadness
the lonely, the homeless, the bereaved.

We think of emergency services personnel, health professionals and care-givers,
and those who investigate and report on tragedy:
may they have courage, insight, and healing.
We hold in our hearts
all who have lost loved ones in motor vehicle accidents and drownings in holiday seasons past;
those who mourn loved ones lost to depression and suicide, abuse or violence.
Despite the pain, may hope be born in them again.

In this season of Advent, this “family” time
we so easily use familiar words and images
forgetting that, for some, they may be symbols of pain, not joy.
We can get caught up in the myth, the image
of a baby as the fulfillment of hope
rather than the start of a lifetime’s responsibility and care
the work of the village, not just the single parent
or unstable family.

In this year, this week
when there have been acts of terrorism, violence and revenge
and unrecorded acts of discrimination and abuse
small thoughtlessness that causes pain to those we think are invulnerable
we give thanks, that there are also stories of courage and love
if we look for them:
leaders and individuals in every sphere
who stand up for honesty, fairness and justice;
people in business and politics, workplaces, schools, communities
who demand and model ethical behaviour
who work by co-operation not conflict, who speak peace to power.

On this first Sunday of Advent
we celebrate hospitality, and our fishes and loaves multiply –
the foodbank basket creaks with its gifts of Weet-bix and noodles,
tinned fruit and baked beans.

And we give thanks for this rainbow community of compassion and transformation,
where we re-imagine what it is to be ‘family’,
renew our vision,
and – with this amazing grace –
we recreate ourselves in our images of God.

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