We have commenced Advent, which is the season leading to Christmas. There are four Sundays in Advent, but this year the season is shorter than usual because the Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve. This is rare. The sermons on 24th December will have very different themes for the morning and then for the evening.
Latin Adventus means arrival or coming and our thoughts turn to the first coming of the Lord Jesus, but we hold those thoughts in tension with his second coming. We tend to look back and at the same time look forward, and yet we have an urgent need to live in the present. Since the twelfth century, and the time of Bernard of Clairvaux, Christians have spoken of the three comings of Jesus: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time.
This year at St Agnes’ Church we shall have a blue Advent, organised by The Reverend Clem Taplin. If you haven’t experienced a blue Advent please do come along to services in December to see how Clem uses the colour.
Christmas is a timeless story, which appeals to very young children. I always have the opportunity to share the story at St John the Baptist kindergarten in Sandringham. Children listen carefully and are enthralled. They love to touch the figurines and very quickly are able to tell the story. All of us find it easy to reflect back and consider the earthly birth of Jesus. It is a greater challenge to accept the promise that Jesus will return and in such a different way. Yet if can accept that he will return then that truth will impact daily living and hence we shall find a place for Jesus daily in our hearts.
So, you know the earthly story – baby at Bethlehem, came as a servant to seek and save the lost and teach us how God expects us to live in response to his grace. Yet his second coming will be to rule over the entire earth. Instead of being the tiny baby he will be recognised as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The very thought gives me goose bumps.
Amidst the excitement and hype of Christmas, which hijacks the season of Advent (which should offer us a quiet time of reflection), find time to ask the living God, who is ever present, to give you a moment of focus to see something new and fresh about this familiar story, which will nurture you in preparation for his coming again.
Bless you as you do so.