Unless it dies… Why the Advent Chapel? (III)

We have been featuring reflections from members of the Advent Chapel planning team on what inspired us to take on this project.
This reflection is from Mr. Nicholas Pang.

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. –John 12:24
I remember a few years back, when I was just getting my feet wet in Anglicanism, there was a little book store owned by the Church in the mall underneath the Anglican Cathedral in Montreal. It was here for a number of years until it closed and I’ve heard tell that its closing sounded to some like the final ringing of the bells, sounding the death knolls of who we were as a church. We no longer owned the privileges we once did, we no longer spoke to the world as we once did. And so, buried deep underground, the space that was our public image quietly died.

And there it sat, quiet, still, for a few years – germinating. We wondered what would become of it, what would become of us.

But Advent is the time of new beginnings. It is the first season of the Christian year. It is the anticipation of the Incarnation of Christ and of the Return of Christ. Advent is the time when the whole earth gathers together to look forward to the coming glory. Advent is the pause in the collective breath we catch, in that split second, before everything we know is thrown into chaos by the arrival of God in the world. It is that first moment when we glance ahead and we see what is coming, what the future holds. Advent is the promise of new life that is simultaneously here and not here. New life is being made real, right now, in our midst.

Funny how the first shoots don't show what the plant will look like when full-grown...

This is true for the church and this is true for our world. The witness of people crying out for justice all around the world – the witness of a small chapel, tucked away underground. These are the new bells ringing for us all. They are the bells of a promise of new life that is being made real for us today. We will be made alive again, not as we once were, but in our changing selves.

As we look forward to the coming of the Christ, we know that the message of the one who comes is the message of Resurrection. It is the promise of new life. And so in the stillness, in the quiet, deep underground and deep within ourselves, we rejoice, for a new day is dawning, new life has burst forth from the seed that died and things will never be the same again.

Mr. Nicholas Pang, a postulant and seminarian in the Diocese of Montreal, is currently studying at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. He is enjoying a project that helps get him out of the books and into the world.

This post is the third in a series of reflections on the Advent Chapel. You can find the reflections all collected here.

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