December 2017 - Preparation for Christmas

The season of Advent is the Christian preparation for Christmas
for four weeks, in Church, faithful worshippers are reminded of:

The Hope - that we have in God.

The Prophets & Patriarchs of the Old Testament - building expectations of the holy birth.

John the Baptist - who was conceived to be the “warm up act” for Jesus.

Mary, Mother of Jesus - without who the stable birth would not have taken place at all.

And then, preparation complete as Advent ends, the celebration of Christmas begins…
what will you hear and see this Christmas?

If you had been there at Bethlehem that night long ago would you have known it was the Christ child?
And how about this year, will you recognize the importance of His coming?

Will you hear only the music and carols, or will you recognize that some in our neighbourhood
may be dreading Christmas, because it is the first Christmas of their bereavement or it just
accentuates their loneliness. Maybe a Christmas card, a phone greeting, a coffee and
mince pie or even a shared meal would be a real blessing to them.

As we hear again the story of the long journey that Mary and Joseph made - the frantic quest for lodgings,
the preparation for the birth in unlikely surroundings, the arrival of scruffy shepherd neighbours and then
the well-healed foreigners from the east - may we see the connections with life in our world today.

So often our awareness colours what we see and what we hear.
Most events are filtered through our own joys and sorrows. That is true for Christmas also.

Long time ago in Bethlehem, if you had been there as a bystander and if you had lacked spiritual seeing
and hearing, then you probably would have been one of the 99% who were out and about
but saw and heard nothing out of the ordinary the night that Christ was born.

But for those back then, and also today, who see the significance of the moment and act upon it,
their hearts and lives are lifted by the significance of the Saviour’s birth.

One of the old fashioned Christmas Carols sums it all up:

No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin.
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Fr. Andrew

Vicar of Hardwicke, Elmore and Longney Churches