Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Advent & Doctor Who

So, there's this group of prophets, having dreams about the future. Bad dreams. Nightmares. And they've been waiting for the Doctor, the one who makes things better/heals/saves (delete where applicable). Except that instead of turning up when he should have, he's been off on a consumer binge. A very big binge - though I don't really understand how a Time Lord can possibly be late for anything.

Advent is a time of dreams, and of waiting to see whether the dream, or the nightmare, will come true. In CofE churches, the set readings focus on the future, on hope and expectancy, on where history and God's purposes are heading. Is it a dream or a nightmare? And when will the dream come true? Into this comes Jesus, welcomed by, for example, Simeon and Anna in the Temple as the sign that the good dream of God's people is becoming reality.

We've got a choice about how we wait for the future. We can wait passively, doing nothing. We can do the avoidance thing, diverting ourselves, consuming experiences and time and trying not to face the consequences - "you should not have delayed" "far too late, he has come". I don't know if that script was written with the Copenhagen conference in mind - a community growing far too fast? - but avoiding the future is a powerful theme, whether it's our own, or that of our community/nation (witness the scrabbling on pensions and power, because painful decisions have been delayed), or of the planet.

Or we can watch and pray. Most agents of change are motivated by a dream, some of those dreams are good (Martin Luther King) some are evil (9/11). Advent reminds us that our dreams of the future, and whether we embrace them or run from them, affect how we live in the present. How do we get dreams? The Ood have got community, and a splendidly low-tech little cave. In 21st century earth dreams have been colonised by the marketing industry and celebrity culture, there are 1000 people wanting us to have their dream, rather than letting us have our own. Dreams need detachment to give them a place to grow, and community to refine them and give them legs. A fellow vicar said that if he has a good idea for something new, he waits until at least 2 other people have the same idea before doing anything about it.

Yesterday on an clergy retreat day we were shown a clip from 'Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium', not a film I've ever considered crossing the street to see. But there's some good lines - the two main characters are waiting for a clock to chime 12. "So now we wait" "Now we breathe, we pulse, we regenerate, our hearts beat, our minds create, our souls enchant. 37 seconds well spent is a lifetime."

Waiting for the rest of that Doctor Who episode, for Christmas to begin, for Christmas to be over, to see whether the dreams or the nightmares are the ones which will come true - we can choose how we wait, and whether its time well spent, or foolishly spent. And there's the ultimate event too: the Doctor is going to die, and so are we. As Gandalf/Tolkien says, what we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us, what we do with the waiting.


  1. NOOOOOO! i'm a huge Dr Who fan and was REALLY stoked to get to see the preview. now i get a "can't be viewed in your country due to copyright restrictions" statement.

  2. oh dear, sorry! Can do you a transcript if you want, but it wouldn't quite be the same.