It is the season.jpg

It is the season

By Fr Bob Bates

St Vincent’s Chaplaincy – Algarve

This coming Sunday, November 29, sees the Church enter into the season of Advent – that period of four weeks before Christmas when we give serious thought to what the true Christmas message is – that God came down to earth as a fragile and helpless baby.

But we also need to reflect that the word “Advent” means “coming” and, as such, we need to remember that Jesus said that He would come again. He didn’t say when, but suggested that it would be a bit different to the first Christmas.

There was talk of Him coming on clouds of glory, charging on a white horse across the heavens to reclaim His Kingdom. Wow!

So what should we make of it? Should we simply get on with the Christmas preparations, the nativity play rehearsals, the present buying and wrapping, the office party plans? Or should we give some thought to what Jesus means to us, and what exactly His reaction might be to us and to this world when He does return – because He does keep His promise!

I don’t think that these two themes are as contradictory as they might seem. In Bethlehem, 2010 years ago, no one was prepared for the coming of Christ, and there was no welcoming committee or opportunity to pamper the new baby or indeed Mary and Joseph. Only one or two folk saw anything unusual about this particular infant – and there is a fair chance that we will not be ready for the second coming!

Perhaps we should be more prepared though – have we learned nothing? Perhaps we should be looking inwards, into our hearts and minds to see if we are really the persons that we want Jesus to find when he does come, and perhaps, as well as looking to the peripherals of Christmas, we should be looking at the first Christmas more deeply – beyond the prettiness of the crib scene and into the murky world that the Christ child had to endure.

Is there some improvement to the world now, or is it even more unpleasant? And is humankind any less cruel and thoughtless today than it was back then?

Advent is a time and season to prepare for both comings. We are to celebrate, quite rightly the glory of Bethlehem – but we are also to take time to meditate or study or simply stop what we are doing for a minute and to assess in our own minds and hearts how we might be better people, and more fit to serve the Christ who was and is to come.

We at St Vincent’s Chaplaincy wish you a meditative Advent and a wonderful Christmas, and we would be pleased to welcome you to any of our services over this season or at any time.

We wish you God’s blessings this Christmas.