On the hill at Ein Karem in the Holy Land stands a simple statue, of two pregnant women greeting one another. It is in a way shocking, you don't often see statues like that, but it depicts a moment of simple joy between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. In Hambleden church last night, in candlelight, I offered a reflection which began with the joy of St Luke's Gospel, where, in the midst of chaos, everyone appears to be singing. Mary with the Magnificat, Simeon with the Nunc Dimitis, Zechariah, and the Angels. In the middle of much political unrest, in the middle of unforeseen circumstances, in the middle of minority persecution, they sang hymns of praise.
They sang because, like at the beginning of time, God's Creative Spirit brings joy from the chaos, gives life to barren places, gives hope in our hearts. We need to sing and we need to teach our children and grandchildren also, to sing, because God's Spirit changes things today.
Personally I felt vulnerable last evening. The public launch on Thursday meant that everything about me suddenly came into the spot light for everyone and anyone to interpret or reinterpret to suit. I needed much help to sing.
Which is why I am glad it was Advent Sunday. Advent Sunday reminds us that it was God's coming in vulnerability that we prepare for, and he asks for our vulnerability too. Like Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah and many others who have gone before discovered, without our own self exceptance that we are who we are and come to him with all sorts of experiences, some chosen or some not, we cannot begin to allow Gods Spirit to work in us a song, a song for others.
As we pray this Advent, admist the world's chaos, of climate change, of war and terrorism, of inequality, of dual standards, of confusion over what we really think about our bodies (pregnant or not), we do so knowing that the Spirit of God hovers over the chaos, and is within it, seeking to bring peace, hope and joy to a song.