Through most of December, we need to prepare ourselves to fully appreciate the enormity of what is coming, or rather who is coming. The Church does this with the season of Advent. This season begins the new Church year. It is a time when we are directed towards Jesus’ birth.
It is one of the most important times of preparation as, if we don’t understand the build-up to Jesus’ arrival, we may not fully appreciate why he came at all. Our readings from Matthew’s Gospel during Advent begin with a message of watchfulness emphasising the importance of having an appropriate sense of alert watchfulness.
We will then move on to a traditional message of John the Baptist who prepares the way of the Lord. We make the path between ourselves and God straight by repentance. Throwing before God the aims to do God’s will that has missed the target, and those times when we haven’t tried to hit the target of God’s will at all. If we listen and act on John’s message, we prepare the way.
On the third Sunday of Advent, we will continue with John the Baptist but with a message that testifies to his role as a prophet. It is also a time to look back at the prophets of old. One of the greatest prophets in my thoughts is Isaiah. In our reading from Isaiah, we find a message of the coming Kingdom of God. It offers a beautiful picture of a better, more perfect world, and one that the Messiah, the Christ child will bring about.
Finally, as we move towards Christmas Day (yet we still need to wait a little longer) we focus on Mary and initially on her predicament. Joseph may have broken off his engagement to his young love; however, the blessing that is upon Mary is explained to him. The child Mary will give birth to is Emmanuel, the name that tells that, ‘God is with us’.
The festival that begins towards the end of December on Christmas Day will run for forty days; so there is much to be gained from waiting, so we can pace ourselves for the great celebration that follows. The festival of Christmas in contemporary thinking of tradition continues until the 2nd February, Candlemas, the presentation of Christ in the Temple.
So my message this December is that ‘Christmas is coming’, please be patient. Jesus is coming, his Kingdom will come, be patient, prepare wisely, listen to the word of God, be strengthened by the steady build-up and I pray we will all be struck afresh by the enormity of welcoming and celebrating, Emmanuel, for ‘God is with us’.
Yours In Christ,