Sunday, 14 December 2008

Even more on Advent III

This evening after the usual hospital visit I was in church for our Advent Vespers, the last of the series as next Sunday we shall have the Office of Nine lessons and Carols. Once again Rob Smith did very well and his reflection is posted below. Thank you Rob and well done.

In the hall BOBs met for their monthly meeting, a really good time was had by all and new members welcomed. Next Sunday they will be visiting the hospital to distribute small boxes of fruit to each patient and deliver a Christmas card to each that was kindly prepared by the Sevenoaks County Primary Year 6 pupils.

Finally a picture of Augustine, the very busy Vicarage cat.

Reflection by Mr Rob Smith for Advent III

Some words from the eighth chapter of the Gospel of St John: ‘Jesus spoke to the people again, he said: I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; he will have the light of life.’

Let us consider the concept of ‘light’ a little longer. At mass this morning we heard from the beginning of the first chapter of St John’s Gospel. This prologue, this introduction, revolves around the image of light. John the Baptist is described as being ‘the man sent from God’ who ‘came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him’. We are told that John ‘was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world...’ In place of the word ‘light’ we could insert the name Jesus, as it is to him that the Baptist bears witness.

If we look back to the very beginning of John’s Gospel, we see a reflection of the creation story in the book of Genesis where we are first introduced to the Word of God through whom all things were made. If we read on a little further, the Evangelist tells us that ‘In him, the Word, was life, and the life was the light of men’. So the light which John the Baptist witnesses to is also the life we share. Jesus is the one who ‘came that we might have life and have it abundantly’. In other words Jesus came so that we might have him and have him completely.

Later in the Gospel John the Baptist refers to himself as “the voice crying out in the wilderness, 'make straight the way of the Lord'”. People were coming from all around to receive the cleansing of his baptism of repentance. In this way they were preparing the way for the Lord to enter their own hearts. John’s baptism was a symbol of dying and new birth, a choice to leave behind old ways and to move forward towards new life. We too are called to new birth; every day, every moment.

Jesus did not just live two thousand years ago; he continues to live in each of us , but only if we let him. He is the light who guides us on our way; he is the Truth who challenges us. The challenge that he gives us may make us feel uncomfortable, but He promised to be with us throughout our difficulties. He promised to be the light in our darkness. Jesus was the Word who was there at the beginning of time, and he will also be there at its end.

Jesus was born in obscurity and few people noticed the event. The Baptist told the people that the Messiah was among them yet, once again, few of them noticed. We, too, occasionally fail to recognise Christ’s presence in the here-and-now. He is in us individually and in us as a Church, as a congregation. He gives himself to us through the sacraments, particularly through the Sacrament of the altar, and through the action of the Holy Spirit.

For the last three weeks, the Church has been stripped of flowers and the mass vestments have been purple. The purple of Advent is also the purple of Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. His nativity, His Incarnation, cannot be separated from His crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. On this third Sunday of the Advent you will have noticed this morning that the Church was more decorated than the previous few weeks and vestments were rose in colour. That is because today we rejoice in knowing that the wait to celebrate Christ’s nativity is nearing its end.

However, we cannot lower our guard. We need to remember that out preparation must continue. Pope John Paul II believed that our whole lives are themselves an ‘Advent,’ for throughout them we are constantly waiting for Christ’s Second Coming. To fully understand what Advent means we need to both ready ourselves to welcome the Lord when he returns, and learn to recognise him as present in the events of daily life. We ought, then, to view Advent as ‘a period of intense training that directs us decisively toward him who already came, who will come, and who comes continuously’, Jesus our Lord.

So as we continue on our journey towards the celebration of Christ’s Nativity, let us then train our minds by listening to the message of the Prophets and John the Baptist, so that we may make straight the path for Christ to enter our hearts afresh this Christmas, and dwell within us until His return in glory. Amen.

1 comment:

Libby said...

what a super moggy Father.