The recent wildfires in California have filled me with horror. How can it be that a town called Paradise has been razed to the ground by uncontrollable fire and so many people have died or are missing. Paradise turned so quickly into a raging inferno that nothing could be done to prevent the tragedy that soon overtook the town and its inhabitants.
To them, it must have seemed that the end of the world had come. Yet for most of us living in safety this is hard to understand; we have come to believe that we are in control of our environment and that all problems are solvable and disaster can be averted. But despite this assumption, we are often the victims of natural forces greater than we can control.
The season of Advent can help us come to terms with the paradox that we can do so much to transform our world and yet, at the same time, natural forces – disease, floods, earthquakes, storms and fire – continue to show up our weakness and vulnerability. During Advent we celebrate the coming of Jesus who is already present in our lives as we prepare for the fulfilment of our redemption in Him.
At the same time, we prepare for that time at the end of time when all will be revealed. Living in these in-between times encourages us to grow in Christ as we keep an eye out for His coming. May we remember in our prayers the souls of those who have died in the forest fires – that they may see the face of God and that their families be consoled and grow strong in hope.