Dear Fellow Parishioners,
The wheel of time turns yet again and once more we are standing at the beginning of a new Church year. The Season of Advent is one that is filled with expectation at the various comings of the Lord. We commemorate the fact that a child has been born into our world at a particular time and the event has changed our humanity in deep and grace-filled ways. We draw encouragement that he HAS come and we look to the celebration of his birthday as an opportunity for him to be our rest and consolation in the present hectic existence that we lead today. Our waiting and longing for the coming of the Lord is never over as we discover new reasons for recognising how we are being drawn into a better future by the fullness of life and love that is his promise to us.
The very word Advent heralds the coming of Christmas in its liturgical sense – commemorating the birth of Jesus in ceremony and song - but what happens is that the commercial sense takes over and we are swamped with a whole deluge of consumerism which is the exact opposite of the true meaning of the season. Civil Christmas is about the storing up of things. The Christmas to which Advent points is about being emptied out so we can become full. The function of Advent is to remind us of the gift God wants to give us of Himself in the person of his Son, and we must empty ourselves in order to be ready to receive it.
The Jesus “who did not cling to being God”, but is like us in all things, is a reminder of how really insignificant we are in the whole scheme of things, but how deeply loved. In spite of our limitations we have the personal experience that God IS our Father, that he is the potter we the clay, and we are the work of his hands to be shaped ever anew by his creative touch. Then, emptied out by the self- awareness of our own smallness, we may have the heart to identify with those whose emptiness, whose poverty of spirit and paucity of life is involuntary. Then we may become full human beings ourselves, full of compassion because we stand together alongside the rest of humanity as beneficiaries and not creators of our own destiny.
The call of Jesus for us to “Stay Awake” is really an opening to the possibility for us to be changed, not by our own efforts, but by God’s grace. “God, by calling you has joined you to his son Jesus; and God is faithful” - even if we are not. At the beginning of this Advent Season we can take a breath and give thanks to God for the wonderful ways he comes into our lives – through the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus in Word and Sacrament; through the grace and peace which becomes almost tangible in every clime at this time of the year; and through the fabric of family life with friends by which the love of God is manifested to us as a continual Advent or coming of his Son in every age.