Letter from the Vicarage - December 2018
BLESSINGS FROM THE VICARAGE
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I don’t know about you, but Christmas seems to come round quicker each year to me! And as each year is getting busier and busier, more and more it seems that I am never quite ready for the ‘big’ day…
Strangely that is entirely the point of Advent – the lead up to Christmas - it is about making time to get ready. But get ready for what? Most people believe that it is about getting ready to celebrate the nativity, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem – so we are getting ready to tell ‘that’ story again. And in fairness, particularly at school, there is SO much preparation going on, teaching the children new songs and practicing the ‘montage’ in new and diverse ways, getting the children to dress up and place themselves so that parents can all take sweet pictures for their ‘e-collections’. Whilst all this is traditional, from the Victorian era mainly, and may bring a nostalgic tear to many an eye, especially to grandparents - the original meaning in the preparation and the destination is far from nostalgic.
Advent in Church is the time to prepare to meet Jesus the Christ again. It’s about preparing for the second coming of Christ – not the baby in the crib, but to come face to face with ‘the divine man’: the man who lived amongst us, died to connect heaven and earth and us to God. He rose again, so was known beyond death to show us that eternal life is a real state of existence. Part of the Creed that we say in the communion service is this:
…For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end…
He will come again to judge the living and the dead… This does not simply mean those who are living and those who are not. It means those who are alive in their faith – i.e., connected and know themselves to be part of God as they are part of life, because Jesus Christ has joined up their consciousness being with that which is Eternal Life. For these people Christ has indeed come again and their Christmases are joyful episodes of greater connexion both with family & friends as well as spiritually. Those who are ‘dead’ are again not literally dead but spiritually disconnected and thus separated from the greatest love of all. But all is not lost! We are all children of God and it is just a matter of awakening that conscious connexion from our side. If you think about it, we can only be separate from God if we actively choose to be so and God has given us the freedom to do that. But God always chooses for us and chooses life for us. That is what the ‘and his kingdom will have no end…’ is about. God’s kingdom is everlasting and so we have all eternity to change our mind and ‘repent’ – turn around because death is not the end – Jesus showed us that! Meanwhile it’s worth reflecting while we have this being, that if we chose to turn away from Life and Love what do we expect to find?
The second coming of Christ is about a judgement, a reckoning or an assessment, but of what? It’s not just a superficial judgement of whether ‘you’ve been bad or good’ – as the Christmas song ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ suggests. It’s an assessment of relationship and how well connected you are to God and each other in love. As I go through ‘that’ story in the services this year again, I am so thankful to remember Jesus’ first coming because from it I know God is eternally with us and never disconnects from us…so at his second coming, if we join with him, we have nothing to worry about!
With love and prayers,