It’s with a certain amount of awe and wonder, and much thankfulness for the NHS, that I look forward to a cataract operation at the beginning of December. As I talk to the many of you who’ve ‘been there, done that’ I realise that the procedure has become commonplace – but no less amazing. Loss of vision caused by age and sunlight is reversed in a short visit to hospital… I’m looking forward to that.
Advent, as a season in the church’s year, calls us to make use of our spiritual vision and to watch, looking for the coming of Christ. No-one knows the day or hour of his coming, only God the Father, according to Jesus’ words. Nor the place, nor what Christ will look like; so keep looking! The Bible uses terms like The Day of the Lord, and the return of Christ (the word in the New Testament is Parousia, which can mean both a royal visit, or simply Presence) and the early church seems to have thought of this as a one-off event in the very near future; the thing was to be ready for it, spiritually and morally. The Christian centuries have gone by and today many Christians take it to mean the presence of Christ coming to us here and now – which also challenges us to be ready and to keep watch, so that we recognize the coming and welcome the Christ.
I guess our inner sight can become hazy and distorted, a bit like the growth of physical cataracts, simply by the experience of living as frail beings in a damaged world. We get hurt, develop prejudices and build defensive barriers; we often have our own kind of impaired vision which makes it harder for us to see Christ in other people or in life’s joys and sorrows. Our advent prayer might be to see Christ more clearly, especially in those different from ourselves, and in life’s unguarded, unexpected events and moments. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus; this Advent, this Christmas, here and now.
In Christ, Simon