Winter is here.
As I write, much of the country is blanketed in snow; storms have brought down power lines and trees, the mercury has turned sub-zero. Are you ready? Anti-freeze in the radiator, oil in the heating tank, winter woollies where I can get at them; I’m already to go – or so I thought.
Advent Sunday dawned bright and clear. As the day wore on, I realised that not all the warm clothing I had chosen was as warm as I thought. Deceived by the recent mild weather, I had not realised how cold it was. We all do it. I have a cupboard full of winter-warm clothes and footwear, carefully selected to keep me warm through the winter. I have the equipment; I just didn’t use it. How often that first cold snap catches us out. This time there was no harm done, just a sharp reminder to take more care. One year though, vanity led to the wrong shoes, and a broken leg.
As well as the beginning of winter, December also begins with the season of Advent. The month has become the time of preparation for Christmas; for the world at large an extended party, for the church an extended visit to the nativity. Yet the focus of Advent is intended to be, not the birth of a child, but who that child is and what he was to become. This Sunday, our Gospel takes us to hear John the Baptist (Lk 3:1-6) proclaim ‘Prepare the way of the Lord …. All flesh shall see the salvation of God’. God is coming in person, be prepared.
Advent is a time to reflect on our preparations for a future, personal encounter with God. As a Christian I pray, I worship, I read God’s word. I try, most of the time, to apply that to my daily living; to live the faith I profess. You would expect that of your priest. I’m sure you live this too. As with my winter wardrobe, I have all the right spiritual clothes in the cupboard. As I was sharply reminded today, clothes in the cupboard don’t keep me warm. Now, as we enter the season of Advent, before we turn our feet once again to the stable in Bethlehem; have we put on the right spiritual clothes for the journey?
Rev Philip Payne
Notice Sheet for 5 December 2021 here