We begin the season of Advent this weekend, a time that is often overlooked amid the intense focus in our culture on Christmas and all the shopping that goes with it. Advent comes with images of darkness and light, with a looking forward to the birth of a small child in a lonely field in faraway Bethlehem, with a searching in the night sky for a star that shines over that field. It’s a good time, amid the loudness of the ads which tell us that this phone, or that carwill give us what we need, to find some time to reflect on the wonder of this season. There is a very good book published by Orbis Books called “Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas” which has short readings for each day of the season.
This is also the time of the year for new movie releases, and over Thanksgiving I went to see a new movie called “A Private War.” The movie tells the story of the English journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in Homs, Syria in 2012, and who, as the movie describes, as a journalist was always drawn to the hotspots of the world and always wanted to tell the story of how ordinary people suffered in wars. She went to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other dangerous parts of the world. The actress Rosamund Pike, who plays Colvin in the movie, describes her this way: “She went to the uncomfortable places of the earth when other people were going in the opposite direction and spoke the truth about them..” Marie Colvin is a kind of courageous figure and a kind of model of what being a disciple means, in her case in an extreme way. What does it mean to speak the truth of human dignity in a world in which that can be easily dismissed? She put herself at risk, and ended up dying, for telling that story. The movie shares that with us, and it’s well worth seeing.