First Sunday of Advent
I am all in a muddle! That is nothing new actually, but one minute I am putting my mind to the Golden Jubilee celebrations which are happening next year, and which all of a sudden seem to be taking shape! The next minute I am proofing service sheets for all the different services and Masses that we have coming up during Advent and Christmas. Where has the year gone?
So, we find ourselves at the start of Advent. I don’t remember much about my Latin lessons at school other than poor Mrs Green trying to teach us lively girls how to conjugate verbs, but one thing that I do remember is that the word Advent from the Latin word Adventus means ‘Coming.’ Advent is a wonderful season full of anticipation and hope, if you can get past the commercialisation that seems to be thrown at you in the shops and the media since September! We are doing our best to focus on the real meaning of Christmas at the Cathedral and our services today and throughout Advent will hopefully reflect this. The first candle on the Advent wreath will be lit at Masses on Sunday and will be at the heart of our celebrations throughout this season.
By way of preparation and in the midst of all the business and hecticness (is this a word?!) please take time to read this small reflection for the first Sunday of Advent if you can. ‘Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.’ Matthew 24:42. And so Advent begins! It starts with a call to vigilance as reflected in the passages above. There are numerous Scripture passages that call us to this vigilance and anticipation of the Lord’s coming; this is only one! Being vigilant means, also, that we are prepared. We are not caught off guard.
Imagine if on Christmas morning you woke up and suddenly realised that you had forgotten to prepare! Imagine if you had no gifts, no food purchased and no plans were made. Of course you would not allow that to happen, but we do sometimes allow it to happen spiritually speaking. We often are not prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ within our hearts.
The first week of Advent also offers the focus of the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus will return again, in all splendour and glory, to judge the living and the dead. We profess that fact every Sunday in our Creed. So, even though Advent is a time for the preparation of the celebration of the first coming of Jesus in the flesh, it is also a time to acknowledge that His first coming is ultimately fulfilled in His final glorious coming.
As Advent begins, reflect upon how ready you are for Jesus’ coming. Are you preparing for it with the same fervour that you prepare for Christmas through shopping, cooking, decorating, etc? Are you looking forward to that day when He will return? Are you preparing for the spiritual celebration of His birth? Are you awake and attentive to the numerous ways that God speaks to you on a daily basis? If you find that you are not as prepared for His return in glory as you’d like to be, make this Advent a time when you get your heart ready. Commit to prayer, spiritual exercises, reflection and attentiveness to His gentle and glorious voice.
Lord, as Advent begins, help me to put my eyes on You. Help me to open my ears to Your voice. And help me to open my heart to Your glorious presence. May I be attentive to You in every way You desire to come to me. Jesus, I trust in You.
This week’s message is written by Claire Hanlon, Assistant to the Dean