So Christmas approaches! But before we sing too many carols we are supposed to prepare ourselves. For what? Well not just Jesus coming as a baby who was to be the Messiah. That is the easy part! We are also expected to prepare for his coming as our judge at the end of time (and in a sense all the time).
A time of waiting, preparation and expectation is actually helpful, although like children we get impatient (though perhaps not specially for the judge aspect!). If you are going for a job interview or an examination, you would be highly advised to set aside time for preparation.
The Advent wreath reminds us to think of stages of preparation in Biblical history for the coming of Christ 2000 years ago. The candles which are lit week by week represent (usually) the Patriarchs, the Prophets, John the Baptist, and Mary the mother of Jesus.
One could equally think of stages by which one could prepare for Jesus coming in judgment: perhaps thinking through things which are wrong in our lives, then asking for forgiveness, then putting things right, then praying for strength for the future. You could work out a sequence for yourself. It does not have to be a brutal or even unpleasant process. To plan to live a better life can be therapeutic and positive. And remember that Jesus the Judge is the same divine person who is our merciful Redeemer.
Another big theme in Advent is the contrast between the darkness of winter and the coming light of spring. Phrases like: “When the Lord comes, he will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness” or “Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you, scatter the darkness from before your path” come to mind. Light is a potent symbol.
Jesus often advised the disciples to stay prepared. One story he told was of the 5 wise bridesmaids who remembered to get extra oil for their lamps and the 5 foolish bridesmaids who forgot. The foolish ones never made it to the wedding.
We are in the process of planning a future joint magazine for the two parishes of St Peter’s Minshull Vernon and St Leonard’s Warmingham. This joint production is likely to be the next magazine you see. I think we should say a very big thank you to Helan Isherwood and Steve Coppenhall for creating/editing our St Leonard’s magazine up till now. It is a tedious unrelenting job working to deadlines and negotiating with others to produce material. So well done to them! I am hoping they will continue to have a role in the future magazine.
Have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year! That comes from Gail and myself. And thanks to all faithful people who serve the church and community in Warmingham. Have a well-deserved break.