It has been a glorious sunny morning, but winter is clearly coming.
Leaves which so recently cloaked our trees in rich autumnal golds and browns, now carpet the lawn. The trees are increasingly bare. Autumn has been mild, but as I survey nature’s food store, the berries on the trees, I wonder what winter will bring.
This Sunday is Advent Sunday. Like winter, Christmas is coming. Soon the air will be full of carols, shops and houses decorated, and crib scenes dusted off once more. After another year of gloom, we long for a celebration. What better excuse than the birth of a child, even one born some 2000 years ago.
Looking out this morning, winter clearly lay close ahead. Such is the cycle of the seasons that as each draws to a close, we look forward to the next with confidence. Spring follows winter as night follows day. With more than 60 years’ experience I think I know what to expect; yet my only picture of winter is a collage of winters past. Every year is different and as our climate warms, we are entering unknown territory.
Nostalgia sells; why else are so many Christmas cards illustrated with images of times past? It is good to look to the past: to see where we have come from, the journey we have made, the people we have met on the way. However, try as we might, we can’t live there. Even as we look back to a baby in a stable, that child calls us to go forward. Going forward means stepping into the unknown.
Advent begins, not with the announcement of Jesus’ coming birth, but with the announcement that ‘The Son of Man is coming (back’). (Lk 22:27). It is good to celebrate the birth of the Christ child; as long as we remember who that child grew to be. The crib and the cross are inextricably linked. The story of our Saviour’s birth should embolden us to step out, with him, into the future, the unknown. ‘The Son of Man is coming, … when these things take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ (Lk 21. 27,28). Prepare to welcome him back.
Rev Philip Payne
Advent Sunday 2021
The Notice Sheet for 28th November can be found here