Letter from the Curate

When you get to my age, nobody buys you an Advent Calendar anymore, if you want one, you have to buy it yourself. So I have done just that, I bought one of the ‘Real Advent Calendars’ where behind each door, a little part of the Christmas story is revealed to us. Instead of taking it home, I have left my Advent Calendar in Church, because I think it was about the 16th December last year when I got fed up of waiting and so opened the remaining doors and ate all the chocolate. I’m counting on the watchful eyes of Martin and Penny to encourage my self-discipline to only open one day at a time.

It is well known that Advent is the season of expectation and preparation, when the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, the birth of baby Jesus, Christmas. You may not know this about me yet but I LOVE Christmas.

I lament when Adults tell me they don’t like Christmas and that it is just for children. I understand that the deluge of secular consumerist Christmas celebrations that started in October is overwhelming and desensitising, but a Christian Christmas is a far cry from that Consumerist Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the lights, I love the decorations, I love the carols and the cards but mostly I am in awe at the mystery of the incarnation. I am humbled by the grace of God, that for us, undeserving as we are, God became man. And I love marvelling in this joy and mystery with other Christians, my Church family. So, I find Advent, the expectation and the preparation for the coming of Christ, extremely exciting!

At Advent as well as remembering Christ’s first coming, we look ahead to Christ’s second coming, his final advent as judge at the end of time. Don’t believe me? Take look at these verses from two well-known Advent Carols:

‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’
O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o'er the grave.

‘Lo! he comes from clouds descending ’
Lo! he comes with clouds descending,
once for favored sinners slain;
thousand, thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears on earth to reign

The second coming, the judgement day, is not to be feared but revered, because as Christians our hope is in the Resurrection, that Christ conquered death on the Cross, that when we die we might rise again to eternal life. Jesus, ‘for sinners slain’ gave us ‘victory over the grave’. This gift is freely given to us but with this good news we are challenged. Jesus requires us to live up to certain expectations, he
says that we must repent and we must love. In Mark 12:29-31 Jesus says the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God and to love one another. Each day, anew, we must endeavour to love. Being only human, we will naturally fail and this is when we must say sorry, for Jesus tells us in Mark 1:15 that we must repent and believe the good news. The birth of Jesus is a matter of life and death and it is only through relationship with Jesus that we are rescued from ‘nothingness’. In preparation for his coming, I invite you to join me in nurturing a deeper, more sincere relationship with Jesus whose death will bring life.
So, this Advent, as I wait expectantly for the coming of Christ, I will also try and wait patiently, only opening my advent calendar one day at a time. I warmly invite you to join us in Church for any and all of the services over Christmas and I look forward to marvelling in the joy and mystery of Christmas with you.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas.

With Love
Lois Ward (Curate)

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