[Pohutukawa triptych - Angie Dennis]

First Sunday in Advent & St Andrew's Day

In Advent, we build the framework of Christmas

together we put up scaffolding

signaling something’s being renovated

something new is being created.


We look forward to the familiar mystery:

newness and home-coming

joy and good will reborn.


Each week, we add to the construction:

shine a light in the valleys of shadow,

lighting the candles of hope, peace, joy and love.

[Pohutukawa - Rob McGregor]

In this season of Advent

this “family” time

we so easily use familiar words and images

forgetting that for some

they may be symbols of pain, not joy.


We can get caught up in the myth, the image

of a baby as the fulfillment of hope

rather than the start of a lifetime’s responsibility and care

the work of the village, not just the single parent

or unstable family.

[Flaming-Pohutukawa - Arlen Feldwick Jones]

In the season of Advent

we hold in our hearts

those for whom this is a time of sadness

the lonely, the homeless, the bereaved.


We think especially of Air New Zealand personnel and others

lost near France, their families, partners, colleagues and friends;

and we remember all who were bereaved in the Erebus air crash 29 years ago.


We think of emergency services personnel,

health professionals and care-givers,

and those who investigate and report on tragedy:

may they have courage, insight, and healing.


We hold in our hearts

all who have lost loved ones in motor vehicle accidents and drownings

in holiday seasons past;

those who mourn loved ones lost to depression and suicide,

abuse or violence.


Despite the pain, may hope be born in them again.

[Coromandel pohutukawa - Noelene Grant]

In this year, this week,

when there have been acts of terrorism, violence and revenge

- in Mumbai, in Gaza, in the Democratic Republic of Congo,

in Thailand -

in other known and unrecorded places;


and unrecorded acts of discrimination and abuse

small thoughtlessness

that causes pain to those we think are invulnerable.


We give thanks, that there are also stories of courage and love

if we look for them:

leaders and individuals in every sphere

who stand up for honesty, fairness and justice;


people in business and politics, workplaces, schools, communities

who demand and model ethical behaviour

who work by co-operation not conflict, who speak peace to power.

[Pohutakawa - Dan Mills]

On this first Sunday of Advent, and St Andrew’s Day,

we celebrate hospitality, and our fishes and loaves multiply -

the foodbank basket creaks with its koha of weet-bix and noodles,

tinned fruit and baked beans.


And we give thanks for this rainbow community

of compassion and transformation,

where we re-imagine what it is to be ‘family’,

renew our vision,

and – with this amazing grace –

we recreate ourselves in our images of God.


© Bronwyn Angela White (2008)—Wellington, New Zealand

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

[yellow pohutukawa flowers - David Wall photo]