We held a special Advent Sung Parish Communion this morning at St Mary’s Easton. The wonderful Itchen Valley Parish Choir led by Major-General Tim Tyler sang the choir parts of the communion brilliantly – all very moving. Thank you to all in the choir and to Richard McVeigh who played the organ.
Revd Alex Pease gave the following sermon:
The King is coming!
The King is coming!
Two French families in Normandy in the Spring of 1944.
They know that the Allies are going to invade.
But in one house, this is something spoken of with excitement, under whispered breath, between a couple frightened, that even mentioning their hopes in front of their own children,will arouse suspicion; might lead to arrest, detention or worse.
The thought that finally, when the Allies come their suffering will be over. Finally, justice will prevail. Finally, those in authority will be pulled down, and finally, those in subjugation will be lifted up.
But, in the other household, the arrival of the Allies is viewed with horror.
Because the first household are supporters of the Free French and the other household are collaborators with the Nazis.
Everything each family has done since the Fall of France in 1940 everything that they are, the identity which they have built for themselves, by the decisions that they have taken, is going to come home to roost when the Allies arrive.
A complete reversal of the situation. Every act of bravery, every act of cowardice, every lie told to the occupiers, every secret kept from them. All will be revealed. The things done in darkness will be made clear.
What a wonderful prospect for one household, what a terrifying prospect for the other!
As probably all those of my generation and earlier know, the BBC, as its signature for encrypted broadcasts into Occupied France, used to play a recording of the four opening notes of Beethoven’s fifth on a timpani drum: Da Da Da Dum – also in morse code the V for Victory. These notes preceded every encrypted transmission to the Resistance. (You can hear this signal at http://www.intervalsignals.net/Files/ukg-z-bbces_vis_c1940.m3u). Followed by some slightly weird encrypted messages: ‘Molasses tomorrow will bring forth cognac’ ‘John has a long moustache’…. which either did or did not reveal instructions to the Resistance.
One can easily imagine, the excitement of the wireless operators as they get out their code books to decipher the coded message. Is it now finally that the Allies will make their move?
Da Da Da Dum
Is it now that the nightmare will be over?
Da Da Da Dum
Or do those notes fill the hearer with dread?
How do we feel when the word ‘Jesus’ is said on the radio?
Do we turn up the sound or change the channel?
Da Da Da Dum…..
Get ready, get ready, get ready, because the King is coming
As we heard in our passage from the gospel (below): Jesus tells us – verse 36 ‘but about that day or hour no-one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son but only the Father’
Jesus tells us (verse 42) ‘therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your lord will come but understand this if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”
Da Da Da dum…..
Are we keeping watch?
Are you ready?
Am I ready?
Those for whom the way the world is, is just perfect, need to show some humility before their God in relation to their neighbours, those for whom the world is tough and difficult, who need to be lifted up and encouraged, as we all prepare for the arrival of the King. And he is coming soon.
Are we ready?
Are we resistance fighters, bravely standing for Christ in a world which has turned against Him; willing to seek to follow his teaching, even though we are ridiculed for doing so? Are we resistance fighters who are thrilledby the sounds of the bars on the radio; when something of Christ manages to get through on the airwaves?
Or are we are collaborators with the way that the world is, collaborators with the world the flesh and the devil? Are we collaborators, reflecting in our every day decisions and attitudes, not the ideas of Christ, but allowing the ideas and values of the worldto be reflected in our behaviour and in what we say, so that we are indistinguishablefrom everyone else? Are we collaborators, because we are unwilling to commit to give time to develop our relationship with Christ so that we love him firstin our hearts are we collaborators, because our life is about the higher priority that we give to our work and to our leisure over our relationship with him loving only ourselves and our own families and friends and not spending our lives focused on the needs of others?
Advent is the time to get ready, to prepare for the arrival of the King.
And mercifully, unlike the arrival of the Allies on the beaches of Normandy, (and this is where the metaphor totally breaks down) the good news is there is something that we collaborators with the world can do, to get ready for the King, to prepare for his arrival.
Because whatever we have done, without limit, without limit, however much we have compromised with the world and its values, however much we have rejected the King in the past, there is something we can do to get ready, because of the price that he paid on the Cross when he was last with us on earth……so that we are thrilled by the prospect of his arrival!
What incredibly good news that there is something we can do! To get ready.
What can we do?
We can choose to repent, we can choose to turn back to Christ, we can choose to have our sins, our collaboration with the enemy, totally forgiven. Wiped clean. As if it never happened. Not just on the surface, but deep down, in our hearts.
A total change.
So that we no longer shudder at the drum beat of his approach but that we are thrilled by the prospect of his arrival so that when he comes, we are totally different we have gone from the darkness of collaboration with the world to the light of resistance in his name
It’s not too late.
Now, in Advent, is the time to change our hearts towards Him.
36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 24:36–44). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.