The people of Melbourne in 2020 know a lot about preparing. We lived through a long Winter of preparation for the days we can now enjoy. Today we are living in a time of greater freedom – and we prepared for this over many hours, days, weeks and months.
We prepared through our daily sacrifices, social distancing and staying home;
through our checking in on each other by phone, text and video;
through our precious one hour’s walk a day, going in pairs;
through our wearing a mask, a visible sign of our community’s shared efforts;
through our tenderness with each other, our comforting and building each other up.
As we live with a renewed sense of freedom, we can choose to remember this year from a perspective of gratitude, tracing a ‘graced history’. There were traces of light even through the most terrible weeks of darkness, when a heaviness enveloped the land. We learnt much about our resilience in the face of adversity; we found new coping strategies in months of trial; we achieved something great and beautiful together. The people of Melbourne can now celebrate these achievements.
We have also learnt much about ourselves. We now see community where before we saw separate individuals living separate lives. We have found that we belong to and matter to each other. May our new awareness encourage us to reach out to each other more than we did in the past. May we live out a refreshed humanity.
Advent: a season of preparation for Christians
These days of greater freedom coincide with the Advent season of preparation, when Christians are invited to let God renew their lives. It’s a season for noticing the divine presence in people and experiences; for spreading peace, joy and hope among neighbourhoods, unit-blocks, communities, friends and families; for becoming aware of one’s own desires to nourish, shape and care for our world.
Soon, Christians will join the holy family in their joy at the new-born Jesus. For the people of Melbourne, joy is among us already.
Church of St James North Richmond, Melbourne. 6 December 2020. 33rd baptism anniversary.