Sermon preached at Mattins on the Fourth Sunday of Advent (23 December 2018) by the Revd Canon Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor
As we hear the stories of God's creative plan and Mary's acceptance of his Divine plan, let us be inspired to be with God and for God in all we do.
For centuries, the imagination and creativity of artists, playwrights, novelists, composers and musicians has been inspired by this season of
Advent and the events of the coming season of Christmas. Latterly they have been joined by choreographers, film makers and others.
And it’s not just the professionals who tap into the creative spirit, but children making homemade cards and decorations awash with non-plastic biodegradable glitter, cooks who bring out old family recipes or daringly trying something new and those whose task it is to lay the festive table with care.
Here in this Cathedral we are overwhelmed by the creativity of singers, musicians, composers, the crafters of liturgy and the practical imaginations of our electricians, stewards, Virgers and everyone who helps bring together Christmas at St Paul’s.
Human imagination is a great thing –it sees what is and dreams about what could be. When harnessed for good it leads us to reach out and draws us forward.
It is what gives impetus to the great developments of science and engineering; it fires the painter, sculpture, choreographer and composer, the baker, draftsman, writer and electrician.
The paucity, or lack of imagination, is often our human tragedy. When we lack the imagination to see the world through the eyes of others, to experience it as they do before rushing to judgment or drifting into indifference. Or to find ways of reconciling with those from whom we are separated.
It is our tragedy, as a society, when we lack the imagination to ensure that the homeless are safely housed and do not die on our streets and those who struggle are enabled to stand.
It is our tragedy, as a world, when we rush to war rather than to more creative solutions, when we lack the imagination to see what our continued demand for the earth’s resources will mean for our planet home.
The last Sunday of Advent, would that we might, be captivated again by the Divine imagination.
As we retell the creative plan of God, whispered to the ancient prophets who foretold his arriving.
As we recall the imaginative ‘yes’ of Mary in accepting the Divine invitation.
As we remember once again the coming of God to a small middle-Eastern hill town, a plan so audacious, brought to birth in the imaginative heart of God. Not some sentimental whimsy but the profound generosity and poverty of the self-emptying God we know in Jesus Christ.
As we anticipate our celebrations of his first coming and watch with longing for his coming again.
May the spirit of God ignite in us a holy imagination.
A holy imagination which sees what is and what could be.
For what we might be called to be for and with God.
A holy imagination which prepares us to receive the good news anew…
Come Lord Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us.