Mike Claridge - December 2012
Roundabout - December 2012
St Andrew's, West Bromwich
As the world dashes headlong into Christmas, Christian spirituality and worship bid us pause. Lost amidst the Christmas Lights and Trees, the tantalising adverts and shopfronts, and the ever nagging call of “twenty shopping days”, “nineteen”, “eighteen”... lies the richness of Advent.
Advent is a call, a call to readiness yes, but in a different sense to the readiness the world rushes to achieve. The world’s is a readiness that will be transient. Wrapping paper and greeting cards, over which so many hours will have been spent buying, wrapping or writing, sending and delivering. Yet all will be cast out after Christmas Day. The gifts they contain will bring pleasure (well, most of them I’m sure) as tokens of the love in which they are given. Yet even the gifts will have their day, and that day will be gone sometime, sooner or later.
Advent is a call, a call to readiness of the heart, mind and life. In that it is similar to Lent, a time to look at our lives and see what needs amending. In another way it is very different to Lent, for whereas Lent looks backwards to Jesus‘ Passion and Cross, the themes of Advent look mostly forward. Although one strand of Advent bids us to prepare again to celebrate Jesus’ birth two millennia ago, the overall bidding of the season is to look forward to a time when Christ’s Kingdom will be completed. Neither the Cross, nor the Resurrection, neither Pentecost nor this age of discipleship, are the final part of God’s plan. Jesus Christ will come again to enfold the world in God’s love. Advent is the call for that to happen as we prepare our lives for when God answers it’s call, “Come Lord, come!”.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath;
Such a Truth, as ends all strife;
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength
Such a Light, as shows a feast;
Such a Feast, as mends in length;
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart;
Such a Joy, as none can move;
Such a Love, as none can part;
Such a Heart, as joys in love.
(1593 - 1633)