Monday, 25 November 2013

Advent

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light! Shine in your Church gathered today     (Bernadette Farrell)

It’s so easy just to let it slip by. How can we make something of Advent?

Advent is a time of practical and spiritual celebration for the great Festival of Christmass. Advent is a time of journeying and a time of pilgrimage, strengthening our call as baptized Christians to walk in the light of Christ.

Advent, a word that means “coming” or “arrival,” is about
History: Jesus was a real person born in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. Through the Scriptures we will join with God’s people through the ages as they look for him.
Mystery: Jesus is always with us through the gift of grace. Grace is a sharing in God’s own life and love that is beyond our understanding, but a love we know through faith, especially shared with us in the Holy Eucharist.
Majesty: Christ will come again—the Second Coming—in glory at the end of time. Your Kingdom Come, we pray, that his will may be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Some will keep Advent as a ‘Little Lent’, with an element of fasting and penance. Yet above all, this is a time of expectation and joy. The Advent candles show us the grounds for our joy, as we look for the Light of Christ. Many Churches use a variety of purple and pink Candles, but in our Churches, we have tended to follow a more contemporary colour scheme: 

The first red candle is a symbol of Hope and represents the Patriarchs such as Abraham and David.

The second candle stands for God's Peace, as we are reminded of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who looked for the Messiah.

The third candle is for 'Love'. John the Baptist baptized Jesus, who is perfect Love.
 
The fourth candle symbolizes 'Joy'. We are able to share in the joy of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church.
 
The fifth white candle, is for the Christ Child, and is lit at the Eucharist on Christmass Day.

Advent Sunday is often described as the Church’s New Year, for on that day we begin a fresh cycle of Readings from the Scriptures. This Year we enter Year A of the Lectionary (Book of Readings), the Year of St Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew appears in the list of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to the gospel written under his name, was a tax collector. Mark and Luke called the tax collector Levi, and it has been assumed that they are one and the same. This occupation was despised by his fellow Jews as a betrayal to the occupying Roman force but Christ showed that judging by outward appearance was not what he was about. He ate with Matthew and with his friends, scandalising those around him. Matthew affirmed that his life would now change because of following Jesus, and that he would make amends for any former wrongdoing. This was enough for Jesus, for he had drawn someone back to God. He was forgiven, therefore he was acceptable, therefore he was received. Matthew’s Gospel has a strong Jewish background, and blocks of solid teaching; it’s sometimes known as the Teacher’s Gospel. The traditional symbol for Matthew’s Gospel is a human being.   

I hope you enjoy your Advent! It’s easy to get distracted in Advent. It’s too easy to let the busyness and the unnecessary commercialism be a substitute for what this time is really about. Enjoy the carols and the glitter by all means, but may there be a little time for sharing in the spiritual pilgrimage of the season. You may wish to use one of these collects from the Church's Liturgy, every day in your own prayers

 For Advent

Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

For the 12 days of Christmass

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God. Amen

 May the Lord when he comes, find us watching and waiting, Amen.