Monday, December 05, 2005

Advent tells us Christ is near (for a Second Time!)


The gulf between Christian and non-Christian is most acute at the great feasts. As we approach Christmas I have become very aware of the huge gap in understanding which re-asserts itself at this time.

For the Christian preparing for Christmas, there is a far greater expectation on the way. The joy in Bethlehem at Jesus’s birth was huge, but largely hidden, despite the shepherds and the wise men, and the nastiness of Herod. It would have been a very minor entry in the society columns had they had newspapers in those days! Certainly the “celebrity” magazines would have taken no notice at all.

But to those involved it was huge. The expectation in the hearts of Mary and Joseph was surely particularly so, and the surprise just as big for the shepherds and wise men?

In Advent we have not quite got as far as that yet! What we have is something just as big, if not bigger - we are going to meet not just the baby but the grown-up, risen-up, Jesus Himself! And that is most certainly the difference between us and the Christmas parties and booze-ups going on around us. There is a real sense in which Advent is not just a simple run-in to Christmas. It is a bridge between November and All Saints and the Feast of Christ the King celebrations and the end of the world. How enormous are the implications of the Bible readings for Advent. We are going to meet Jesus. Yes! That is absolutely huge.

So I suggest just a little mind shift this December - think back to All Saints Day and All Souls Day when we remember Christians past,who have "passed on,” and roll forward to the Last Days and the Last Judgement and The Second Coming. They are all linked, through Christ the King - surely it is a happy and inspired choice that this falls just before Advent! Join all these celebrations up and you make a wonderful chain for mature and sober reflection, and huge enjoyment as we approach the birth which made it all possible.

Life, will, I guess, begin to take shape, and perhaps to make sense even more!

A prayer ascribed to the BVM

Little children, at this time, in a special way,
I pray before God to give you
the gift of faith.
Only in faith will you discover
the joy of
the gift of life that God has given you.
Your heart will be joyful thinking of eternity.
I am with you and love you with a tender love.