Dr Kate Harrison Brennan launches our Advent series with a reflection on Christ interrupting our world in a beautiful, political and dramatic way.
Nicholas Alexander is the Senior Pastor at Devonport Baptist Church in Tasmania.
Today's reading is Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
It was Summer holidays 1995.
I’d just had that first great growth spurt that leaves a boy gangly and all out of proportion, wearing what two weeks ago was a perfectly good outfit but had now morphed into short-shorts and what I can only describe as a mid-drift. In this state I found myself standing at the very front of the cue for ‘The Bush Beast’, the biggest roller coaster at Australia’s Wonderland.
I was standing there because my big sister had told me I was now tall enough to ride on the big roller coasters, and when your older sister calls you out and challenges your bravery, you have to answer—it’s time for young boys to step it up. So there I was, a mix of excited and terrified. Only it got worse, my sister convinced me that the least scary seat was right at the front. So we found our way there and my heart started thumping. The safety guard came down and any hope of escape was cut off. I began to sweat. Suddenly, with a shunt and scraping of metal on metal, we were off... slowly around the corner and up the hill. Click, click, click, click… The anticipation of what was coming was enough to make me faint. My doom was approaching at such a slow steady pace I could barely handle it…and being right up the front I had the best possible view. Click, click, click, click…on it came, the anticipation grew and grew…until finally we crested the hill and the rollercoaster flung us into the abyss.
...and I loved it.
...and it was freedom.
…and it was beautiful.
The feelings that followed during the turns and twists of that ride have never left me. The anticipation and nervousness I had felt at the crest of that hill were overtaken by the sheer fun of the ride that followed.
Christmas Eve is a day of anticipation. A day of nervous energy as we wait for the arrival of our saviour. While the anticipation is wonderful the real and unexpected joy is found when we give up control to what comes after the plunge.
Today's reading from Psalms reminds us of one of the most beautiful and simple truths. God is in control. It is God who makes known, God who establishes, God who anoints, strengthens and defends. Each Christmas we are reminded that there is an amazing ride available to anyone who wants to hop on. Throwing your lot in with a baby from Bethlehem can be frightening, but it can also be exhilarating. Going without in order to give to those who have less, speaking not for your self but for others, living a life committed to something bigger than yourself. Sounds crazy. It is. But there is something beautiful that happens when we give up control.
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Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.
1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
2 I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
4 ‘I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah
19 Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
“I have set the crown on one who is mighty,
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found my servant David;
with my holy oil I have anointed him;
21 my hand shall always remain with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
the wicked shall not humble him.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
25 I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’