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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr. David's sermon


28th November 2004

Fr David Shepherd

Advent Sunday

Most men have a fascination with maps. It's because we don't like to ask the way when we are lost. We like to find it for ourselves, with a map. Hence all those rows on car journeys about not asking the way and about poor map reading!

Earlier in the year, I read a book by John Keay called 'The Great Arc'. It told the fascinating story of the survey and mapping of India in the C19th - struggling through the jungle with a theodolite, fighting off tigers and malaria and that kind of thing. Before the process began no one knew for sure which was the highest mountain in the world. After the surveyor George Everest had completed his life's work everyone knew. The highest Mountain in the world was named after him and has continues to capture our imaginations ever since.

The obsessive desire to climb mountains only dates from C19th with its heady mix of romanticism and exploration with more commercial and strategic concerns. Long since human beings had been inspired by mountains, seeing them as the dwelling place of the gods or God. Think of Mount Olympus in Greek mythology, the place of the Andes in native South American religion or of all those mountains in the Bible.

The prophetic tradition of Israel looked forward to the establishment of Mount Zion as the seat of God. Jerusalem with its Temple Mount would be transformed by God bringing in his kingly rule.

Today, Advent Sunday we have set before us the vision of Isaiah 'that in days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills.' How can this vision of a spiritual 'Everest' inform our Advent faith? What can we learn?

Advent then is a time for renewed exploration of the mountain of God. It is a time for rediscovering the attractiveness of God. It's a time for allowing his light to dispel our darkness. It is a season for recommitment to Bible reading and the penitential seeking after God's justice.

Above all Advent should fill us with gladness.

'I was glad when they said unto me: we will go into the house of the Lord.'

Amen

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Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at webmaster@stmatthewsoxhey.org.uk Last updated 04/12/04 18:00 Author: David Shepherd