Weekly Advent Thought

SHOUT like no-one’s listening!
(A voice shall cry out. What shall I cry? 
a reflection on Isaiah 40: 1-11)
Don’t shout!
Speak with your ‘inside voice’!
This is something I used to say very often to my youngest, who still seems to be totally incapable of whispering! 
He’d declare with a loud voice in smart restaurants ‘this pizza tastes like soil’ or carry on singing ‘blah blah blah’ as the hymn tune came to an end in church. 
Quite mortifying when you’re the Vicar. 
This passage reminds me of this, and makes me think that I should perhaps have not worried as much as I did. 
Shouting gets it out there, and out of your system. I’m writing this shortly after Advent Sunday. We heard the passage where Jesus shouts, turns over the tables in the temple and gets cross. I have to admit that I LOVE this passage. I’m not really a meek and mild Jesus kind of person and I don’t want to ‘live a quiet and Godly life’ as the Book of Common Prayer would have us do. 
I want to shout. 
Now, more than ever!
What we have to say during Advent is life-changing. World changing. I don’t want to whisper, I want everyone to know. We may well be that one voice ‘crying in the wilderness’, making way for the Lord, and the world needs to hear it. As we read, the world is consumed with spending money. Already, the plastic tinsel, wrapping paper and Christmas trees are on special offer, as if it’s all over before it began. 
We know different. 
As we continue our wait, we think about the question posed in verse 6;
What is it that we cry?
What is the cry of the church?
All too often, our shouting about the arrival of Jesus is wrapped in sentimental nonsense, beaming wide-eyed shepherds and cosy clean stables. The reality, as we know, was very different and the story of Advent and Christmas is more radical and real this year than ever; more disturbing, life-changing and central to the change we need as a world, as a country and as a church. 
The places we are singing about, illustrating in our sermons, crib sets and churches is at war. 
What we call the ‘Holy Land’ could not feel less holy as Israel and Gaza continue to spiral into unspeakable violence and horror. 
Innocent families, just like the Holy Family we remember at this time, an immigrant, brown-skinned family with no fixed abode look around for a place to stay, are ripped apart. 
What we shout matters. 
The story of Advent is one of real hope, but it’s a choice. We need to actively choose to make way for God, to raise up the lowly, to bring good news to Zion and we need to shout this good news from the mountain tops. 
I grew up in Yorkshire, amongst the dark satanic mills, but also amongst the glorious hills. My choice of hymn has to be ‘Hills of the North’ again, a hymn we sang on Sunday:
‘Shout as you journey home, songs be in every mouth….in Jesus ALL shall find their rest, in him the universe is blessed.’
Canon Nathan Jarvis
Rector of St Mary’s Church, Alderley

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