Computer problems stopped this going up last week. Here is the reflection for Advent 3.

Advent 3 brings a change to the feel of Advent and this was evident in our mediations and discussions on our third adult Advent group.

Although we had taken the theme of Justice, which is so evident in the Gospel reading, joy would not be ignored either and came bursting in. Looking at the gospel and the quote from Blessed John Paul II we noticed the prophetic nature of the Kingdom of God; Jesus’ advice, John’s proclaimation and the example of Our Lady; all these proclaim a Kingdom where the King is the “Messiah of the Poor”. It demonstrates clearly the type of Kingdom Christ is bringing into being.

The first part of the Gospel and one of the quotes (“And since it is a doctrine [social doctrine] aimed at guiding people’s behaviour, it consequently gives rise to a commitment to justice, in accordance with each individual’s role, vocation and circumstances”) show clearly that in Christ’s kingdom the actions of individuals in relation to justice is of upmost importance. Our faith has to be lived out in the way we treat others. This call is one which, when responded to, deepens our awareness of God’s love for us and for those around us. Jesus’ words to be content with the pay we receive talk about holding lightly what we have. It made me think of the difference in the first week between the expansive nature of God’s invitation and the grasping, corrupting nature of sin. Holding wages or possessions or food lightly and sharing where we can is consistent with the values of God’s kingdom and is necessary for justice to be realised. The grasping nature of sin is what leads to injustice. John Paul II states clearly that this, as the Magnificat shows us, is “intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation”

For the second part of the evening we split into two groups and discussed the Old Testament Reading and the Collect.

One group noticed the tensions that exist between justice and joy. The two are intertwined but also we live with the reality of injustice. They also thought about the shift in this week, displayed in the pink candle. This candle is, if you like a watered down purple. The penance aspect of Advent lessens just for a week and we get a little glimpse of the joy to come at Christmas.

The other group got carried away with the joy bubbling up within them! They looked, as indeed the first group did at the present tense of the Old Testament reading. We live as a post Easter, post-Pentecost people. When we go through Advent we enter into the experience of a people who were waiting for the Messiah and yet we also live a life in the Spirit when God is with us all the time. From our experience bubbles up joy, a joy we sometimes lose sight of. Going through Advent aware of the longing of the people of Israel helps rediscover this joy of the risen Christ.

This group also talked about how Christ was here, even though he was not seen by the people as the Messiah. In the Gospel a sense of expectancy is growing, yet Christ is already in their midst. The people didn’t know who he was, they mistook John for him. He was present however. In a sense the Messiah is with his people from the moment of the Annunciation. The work of salvation is not done yet. The Passion and the Resurrection have yet to happen but here is our King with his people already.

To complete our session, we thought again of what it is that God is growing in us this Advent, what we need to do to nurture it and what inhibits the work that God does in us.