FAITH FOR TODAY: The countdown begins
DONNA TOURNEUR CONTRIBUTED Rev. Donna Tourneur ministers among the people of Trinity United Church in New Glasgow.
The practice of counting down the days is never more widely exercised perhaps than it is in the lead up to Christmas. For the most enthusiastic, it starts the day after Christmas, on Dec. 26 or at least by June 25, when we begin to hear, “just six more months.” There are calendars prepared for the Santa Claus culture, which begin on Dec. 1, but those of us who follow the Christian calendar begin the countdown on the first Sunday of the new church year, Advent One. The idea of counting down builds up excitement for the day long-awaited, but these are important days of preparation. While cultural celebrations include festive gatherings and a frenzy of gift buying and exchanging, leading up to Christmas Day, the time of preparation in the Christian calendar is perhaps more important than the actual day which honours his birth. We celebrate the weeks of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy with accompanying readings that speak of the end times, of never knowing the time or the hour when death comes as we work to bring about God’s reign. While the readings express themes that seem hopelessly at odds with the season, one might do well to reflect on the actual time we have, while we wait. Every day counts. As I write this column, I am surrounded by news of death: parishioners, a dear friend, and the death of naivety. As Canadians, we can no longer plead ignorance to the danger climate change presents. As North Americans, we can no longer pretend that there are one set of rules for all. White privilege has proven to be a thing, time and time again. As citizens of the world, we can no longer believe that our actions only matter to us. We know for sure that our lifestyle impacts the most vulnerable in so many ways that we’ve lost count. As I see it, the only thing to save us is love. As we prepare for Christmas this year, perhaps embracing a true expansive love for others is the best gift to give, the best way to prepare for the kingdom to come. As if waiting for the birth of a long-awaited baby, one whose life will change the world, we wait for you, Prince of Peace. And while we wait, we prepare to be a part of the kingdom God dreamt. Making those days count each week as we lead up to the day of Christmas will be part of what brings about the reign of Christ. A faith for today needs to move beyond a piece of chocolate for each day in December, to an act of compassion and a heart transformed. We can build it together, one follower at a time.