Advent Adventures

2nd December 2023

We are looking forward to welcoming Paul and Helen back on Sunday following Paul’s sabbatical, and we hope that this has been a really restful and refreshing time for them.

Sunday also marks the beginning of Advent, a season of anticipation and hope. We certainly need some hope at the moment as there is plenty going on, nationally and globally, that might tempt us to despair.

Simply having something to look forward to can lift our spirits and so we anticipate Christmas and the joy of celebrating Jesus’ birth.

‘Advent’ means ‘arrival’ and Christmas marks the wonderful arrival of the baby who grew up to be our wise Teacher, compassionate Lord, and selfless Saviour. And his birth brings hope, the hope that comes from knowing that God has lived as one of us and understands us, that God loves us, and that he has done what was needed to provide forgiveness and eternal life.

He is ‘Immanuel’, God with us and for us, and as the angel said to Mary, ‘you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

Advent also invites us to think of another arrival when Jesus will return to fully establish God’s Kingdom. That Second Coming is shrouded in mystery. When will it be? How will it happen? What will it mean?

What is clear though is the hope it inspires. There is a plan. History is heading towards a destination. The injustices and suffering of this world will not go on forever. As Julian of Norwich heard God say, ‘What is impossible to you is not impossible to me. I shall keep my word in all things and I shall make all things

One day there will be ‘a new heaven and a new earth, and God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.’

And that hope for the future does not invite us to merely sit back and wait. Rather, we are invited to use that future vision to shape our values and actions now. God will deal with injustice, so let’s share his concern for justice now. God will relieve suffering, so let’s act with compassion now. God will defeat evil, so let’s dedicate ourselves to what is good and right now.

The season of Advent invites us to choose to be hopeful. We can rejoice in what God has done in Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. We can look for Jesus’ return and let his vision and plan for the future inspire and shape our present.

With best wishes for a hopeful Advent, Revd Stephen