This was the eighth email that the lady at our local authority and I had exchanged. She was always very gracious and polite. Our ‘thread’ was about a small sum of grant money for a church gardening project that had ended up in our Panto account! Quite appropriate, really…In the end, our Pantomime treasurer paid the money to our General Fund. When I informed the lady that we’d found a simple solution, she replied that she’d close the case, then added:
Very best wishes for a lovely Advent and Christmas, Karen
Advent?? Isn’t this mainly to do with those calendars where you open a window every day and grab a tiny bit of chocolate?
The run-up to Christmas this year has been as manic as 2020 and ‘21 were subdued. Orchestral concerts, Jane’s brass band concerts, watching the Panto, then ‘Rastrick Voices on Tour’ in which our churches’ choir has featured in a Christmas concert at four local residential homes. [The picture features me with Jane, along with Revd Michelle’s knitted figures with which she illustrated her talk.] And there’s lots more services to come!
Don’t you love donning a Christmas jumper and enjoying a carol sing, eating mince pies, drinking mulled wine, twinkling fairy lights, pressies under the tree…all the joys of the festive season? So good to escape the gloom of the world around us that features in so many of my blog posts; a time to be jolly, to make merry, to forget the ‘grim realities’ of climate change, economic meltdown, fuel poverty and Uncle Tom Cobley and all?
‘Escapism?’ I hear you murmur, ‘That’s not like John! Although he could do with lightening up a bit…’
Personally I think it does no harm at all to enjoy the Christmas cheer and forget our crisis-ridden world for a while. Many writers are pointing out that Jesus himself was born into a world of stress and anxiety. Just as the grim forebodings of climate change fill us with dread, his people were oppressed by their Roman overlords and were all too aware of the dreadful consequences of upsetting them. They were waiting for the Messiah; a deliverer, long foretold, who would set his people free.
What’s Advent all about, then? It means ‘Coming’, and it’s about preparing to celebrate Jesus’ first coming whilst also getting ready for his second. Yes, Jesus made quite clear that he’ll be back, not as a baby in a manger but to bring this present age to its conclusion and to recreate heaven and earth. He made clear to his disciples that he was going to ‘prepare a place’ for them.
We all know how to prepare for Christmas; that’s what we were doing in my picture. But how d’you prepare for this so-called Second Coming? In drafts 1 and 2 of this post I tried to spell it out. Then I gave up. Let’s say that amongst the things Jesus talked about were that I should come to know him – and, through him, God the Father – in a close, personal way that means I am held secure through all the storms of life.That I learn to love in the sacrificial way he loved. That I seek to share his life with others, so they, too, come to be modern day disciples.
Following Jesus has to be worked out afresh throughout every period of history. Many of us believe that, in this present age, we are called to care for, and to join the battle to save, the creation that God loves. Is it a losing battle? No! Let’s remember that Jesus said,
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28 vs 20).
I wrote back to Karen and asked her, “Are you a woman of faith by any chance?”
It was no surprise that she replied, simply,“I am indeed.”
She certainly made my day.
So, reader, I wish you, too, a lovely Advent and Christmas.
4 thoughts on “Happy Advent (what’s that?)”
Thank you John may your Advent issue in a happy Christmas
Another uplifting read, John. It doesn’t hurt to be reminded of what Advent and Christmas are really about. It is sometimes the ‘extras’ we now include which cause the money problems!
To you too John. x
To you too John & May Advent & Christmas be followed by further fruitful years until his coming ❤️