Living in interesting times – a thought for Advent!
The story goes that in Ancient China the worst thing you could wish on anyone was that they would live in ‘interesting times’ – times of uncertainty and instability. There is a feeling in the air these days that, here in the West, such ‘interesting times’ are now upon us.
In my twenty years of ministry here at Liberton, I can think of no time when there has been greater uncertainty about the future. Referendums, presidential elections across the pond, up and coming elections in key European states, and the rise of China and its impact on the global economy, all point us to the reality that in the months to come we will be facing a ‘perfect storm’ of change.
To those of us who lived through the upheavals of the last century, such times are not a new experience. The First World War, the rise and fall of fascism, and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall were all significant events that changed the world. To those who have lived most of their lives since then, however, change on the scale we are currently facing can be an unsettling thing.
Living in ‘interesting times’, however, can also have its positive side. It forces us to face up to the fact that being in full control of our lives, our community, and the future of our nation is actually an illusion. It forces us to take a step back and rethink our own values and priorities. It make us take a hard look at all the things we do, and ask if they are really as necessary as we think they are.
Traditionally, Advent is the season when we prepare our hearts and lives for the coming of Jesus, and, whatever happens in the coming year, this is one reality that will not have changed. So, here’s a thought for Advent. Think of it as a God-given time for thinking and praying about the things in your life that really matter, and then let these priorities influence all you say and do – not just over the Christmas season, but in the ‘interesting times’ to come.