Advent arrives

WITH THE Nativity of Christ less than one month away, the first Sunday of Advent coincides with St Andrew’s Day this year. Andrew, previously a disciple of John the Baptist, was the first to be called by Jesus and, together with his brother Simon Peter, both of whom were fishermen, they left their nets and followed him.

November 30 will be the start of Advent, during which our thoughts are directed to the first coming of Christ 2,000 years ago and also to his promised Second Coming as Christ the King in the future. These four weeks are a period of joy and hope. At the same time they highlight that we are on a spiritual journey and accountable to God for all that we do during our time on earth.

Affirmation by the Anglican Communion in the Nicene Creed that “He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead” is a reminder that one day the sins we have committed may come home to roost. Meanwhile, although some of us need to mend our ways and there is a worldwide shortfall in human stewardship of the Earth, being the beginning of the Church Year it is also a time of anticipation and longing which was first fulfilled by the coming to earth of God in human form.

On the first Sunday a wreath of green leaves holding five candles is placed upon the altar, symbolizing the coming of Jesus who, in the Christian faith, is seen as the light of the World. The first to be lit represents Hope -“A light shining in the darkness” said John the Apostle. On the second Sunday a candle for Peace: in the Old Testament, Isaiah prophesied “For to us a child is born……everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.

The third candle represents the Love of Christ. The fourth symbolizes Joy – both ours and also the joy of Mary his Mother. Finally, the fifth candle lit on Christmas morning represents the birth of Christ – “I am the light of the World. Whoever follows me shall never walk in darkness” (John Ch:8 v:9).