The Third Sunday of Advent

It happened early today. It usually happens at the beginning of the new year. This is me getting muddled over which year it is – sometimes writing the previous year in January – or occasionally thinking we’re already in the next year in December! This morning I was getting out my Doctor Who 2024 calendar (thank you, Ian) to take to my office in Westfield House and I saw the numbers 2024 and thought immediately ‘that’s wrong!’. The time is wrong. I know I was reacting to the shape of the four numbers – not the numbers themselves – the year – it was the shape that jarred me, that was wrong – until my brain ‘switched on’ and I remembered when I was!

I often hear from young people that they are living in the wrong time. Usually it is because of the cost of living and particularly the cost of housing and how they will never be able to afford a house. I know there is ecological angst among many people, particularly the younger generation – though my conversations on that topic have been more with grandparents concerned for the world for their grandchildren. 

Eric Bogle’s song ‘The Gift of Years’ about an old Aussie visiting the grave of his World War 1 mate 75 years later says, 

“And the country that you died for, mate, you would not know it now,
The future that we dreamed of, mate, got all twisted up somehow,
The peace that we were fighting for, the end to stupid senseless war,
So it couldn’t happen to our kids – well old mate, it did.”

Both the diggers and their children lived in the wrong time it might be said. And we might say the same for the last decade for the people of Syria, or the last two years in Ukraine or the last 2 months in Gaza.

Over the last few centuries – ever since the Enlightenment and the discoveries and truths that come from Geology and Biology – the Christian Church has struggled with time and how to factor Biblical time into the equation. The emergence of terms such as ‘inerrant’ and ‘infallible’ for the Bible and the teaching authority of the church are used to bolster the Christian view of things.

However Christmas is the story of the right time! But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4,5 ESV) The Incarnation – the arrival of Jesus in this world – ‘behind enemy lines’ so to speak is the final part of the rescue operation God has sent in motion. Christmas is celebrated because it will lead to Good Friday and Easter Sunday which, in turn, leads to Jesus’ ascension and to words, water, bread and wine being used throughout time for people to encounter Jesus, be loved by Jesus, and live with Jesus in their time. Yes, we may feel that we live in the ‘wrong’ time or a horrible time but because of Jesus – Christmas and Easter – we can also say, no matter the calendar year, that we are living in God’s good time. That perspective helps us tell the time!