By Margaret Brown
AS WE celebrate the four weeks of Advent – the first, marking the start of a new Church year, the last ending on Christmas Eve – we are anticipating the birth of Jesus all over again.
At the same time, we look forward to the coming of Christ the King at his Second Advent and the revelation of God in Christ, that all creation may be reconciled in him. Hope springs eternal and, even in the 21st century, where injustice, tyranny and social breakdown are a way of life, we continue to pray for peace and justice.
Many years ago, the run up to Christmas was a time of fasting and penitence in preparation for the royal birth, knowing that it could only be followed by the Crucifixion. Today, we think more about the joyous arrival of the Babe of Bethlehem all those years ago, and less of the sacrifice to come.
With the beginning of Lent on February 21 next year, there will be time enough in the days ahead to examine one’s behaviour: to consider the gap between how it is, what it ought to be and what improvements are needed.
Meanwhile, despite the razzmatazz into which we are drawn, and the overwhelming plans and money problems, the joy remains and the child within refuses to be smothered. In Church, a wreath of evergreen leaves holding five candles is placed upon the altar, one to be lit each Sunday of Advent as we await the coming of the infant Jesus.
The central one – known as The Christ Candle – is lit on Christmas Morning to mark the arrival of The Light of The World, the outer four representing Hope, Love, Joy and peace.