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This homily was given by Peter Garvie, a final year ordinand, at Evening Prayer on Monday 29th November 2010.
We are now in Monday of week 8. Its astonishing to reflect on all that we have achieved and experienced in such a short period of time over this term. But if you are anything like me you must be feeling the strain a bit now, aware of that creaking and aching as the term edges ever more inevitably to its completion. I don’t know about you but I feel like a very tired marathon runner. I feel as though I have very little energy left for battling over the hills, I for one am weary, and I’ll be honest with you, I am beginning to beg for the finish line. The thing is though, as the term edges ever more inevitably to its completion and we feel strain a bit, we begin to become aware of what this is all about.
Advent is a good time to re-align ourselves with what after all, should be the motivation behind all that we do. And we now have an opportunity to do this as we embrace a new and invigorated spiritual life as our liturgies change. If we let our work spring out of our prayer lives we will gather the momentum to come round that back straight and execute that sprint finish we need. In the army over the summer I learnt from a sergeant that when the soldiers get exhausted on their physical training exercises and look as if they are about to collapse, they will often run along side them and put their hand gently on the small of their back. There is no physical advantage to this but it is never the less known to have the most remarkable results. I am told it more often than not – gives them that little bit of encouragement they need to push on. I wonder whether we might be able to ask ourselves how much Advent can help us push on with our work. If we are tired, if we are beginning to hear those creaks and feel those aches as we complete all the things in our busy schedules, then might Advent be that gentle encouragement we need. Might it help us feel the presence of that encouraging hand upon us, the hand of the living one, our risen lord and helper? For many of us we have reached that point in term, for others we might be able to be the one who offers that encouragement. Either way Advent is a time to dwell ever more seriously, ever more joyously on the coming of the kingdom of God and what our appropriate response should be.
Our gospel tonight talks about Jesus healing, and when people tried to get in his way, he kept on healing, when they plotted his destruction, he kept on healing. Let us not forget our work, our ministry, as we come to the end of this term. Let us be encouraged, and let us pray.