Second Sunday of Advent
‘The flattening of each high mountain and the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God’. This is the vision of Isaiah that we are given this weekend and which is echoed by John the Baptist in the Gospel. Being someone who enjoys walking in the countryside the thought of flattening the mountains and filling in the valleys fills me with horror – we have already destroyed so much of our environment and features like this are a special part of God’s creation. But I have to admit that there are lots of occasions when I have been coming from the city centre back to the Cathedral or walking back from St Vincent’s church carrying a heavy bag or rucksack when the thought of making level the way seemed to make sense. Also roads through valleys and over hills were places of considerable danger in former times. We all create little hills and barriers which prevent Christ coming into our lives. These obstacles in the way of the Lord are not items of beauty but blots on our personal landscapes. John’s message clearly invites us to chip away at the barriers we create and make a straight highway for the Lord.
The first half of the coming week will be busy with school services and events. On Tuesday afternoon Scarisbrick Hall are having their carol service in the Cathedral. St Mary’s College, Crosby prize giving will have taken place on Monday evening. The Schools Advent Services take place on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon which will be led this year by the Academy of St Francis. The SAMM (Support after Murder and Manslaughter) Christmas Service is on Thursday evening at 7.30pm and the Dementia Carol Service is on Friday afternoon at 2pm.
With all these events due to take place the staff have been busy this week preparing things for the end of Advent and the lead up to Christmas. Christmas trees are all in place, lights being checked everywhere, crib figures dusted down and dressed in readiness. There has been work behind the scenes to create new characters for the knitted crib as well as knitted straw and there are still last minute decisions to be made for changes to Christmas events.
The Cathedral is no different than any home in wanting to create a festive atmosphere for the celebration of Christmas but on a much larger scale. Hopefully everything we do is done to give honour to the Christ Child, born in the stable at Bethlehem long ago and to create a place of welcome where he can dwell amongst us today.
Next Saturday evening we have our own Cathedral ‘Celebration of Christmas’ concert which will be compered by Roger Phillips from BBC Radio Merseyside. It promises to be an evening of good fun and enjoyment with favourite carols and popular Christmas music with plenty of opportunities for us all to join in. There are still some tickets left for this if you fancy putting on your Christmas jumper and joining us for what promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Canon Anthony O’Brien