Second Sunday in Advent: God’s invitation

By Simon Barrow
December 7, 2014

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,” writes St Paul in the Epistle set for today in many churches.

‘Believing’ isn’t primarily a head matter, like assenting to a set of abstract propositions.

St Augustine speaks of ‘believing into’ God, which is more like immersion than sitting an exam.

The Christ who comes to us this Advent invites us to join his community and to practice the virtues that build peace instead of enmity among peoples.

This ranges from the adventurous (like those from Christian Peacemaker Teams who go into dangerous conflict zones to try to break down barriers) to the mundane (acts of hospitality and welcome when, frankly, we’re not in the mood).

For most of us, most of the time, it is in the ‘ordinary’ that God’s spirit comes, offering peace and joy in small moments where what is in our heart and what is on our lips and in our actions is all of one piece.

However, for that to be the case, we need to be paying attention.

Attention is what Advent is all about. And in a world of almost continual distraction it is far from easy.

Jill Segger writes: “I have always felt that Advent is a rather Quakerly concept. Its sense of quiet and attentive waiting sits well with our understanding of worship.”

Worship is not the sound we make, but the quietness of God entering our hearts and changing them, slowly and patiently.

It is a focus on what is really worth-it, as distinct from all the shiny baubles that promise much but deliver little.

* The AlterNATIVITY Advent Calendar (with Bloomsbury Baptist Church):
* Advent: God's alternative agenda:
* More on Advent from Ekklesia here:
* More on Bloomsbury Baptist Church here:
* Visit the ALTERnativity website:


© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

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