I have been unwell these past two weeks and unable to raise much interest in blogging. I was back at church yesterday, but didn’t take the services; I left that to my colleague, Rev Dr David Rankin.
In the morning, we had a great time starting to build up a Jesse Tree with the children. David preached in the evening, and I asked him to make his sermon available:
1 Thessalonians 3. 9-13; Luke 21. 25-36
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
The first Sunday in the season of Advent – the first Sunday in the Church Year – begins the liturgical journey towards one of the two great feasts of that Church Year (the other being Easter Day), the Feast of the Nativity of the Child, the Coming of the Christ, the Sending of Christ, the Christ-mas.
Purple is the ancient royal colour and therefore a symbol of the sovereignty of Christ and is thereby connected to the final Sunday of the Church calendar (last week), the Feast of Christ the King. [There is a sense in which the Feast of Christ the King both prepares us for Advent and the coming of the King but also is the culmination of the year; the season of Advent at the beginning of the year anticipates the coming of the King, the Feast of Christ the King at the end recognises and celebrates his having come.] Purple is also associated with repentance from sin (which is why it is also the liturgical colour for the season of Lent leading to Easter). Advent is a season of spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth and the sending of Christ (for Christmas – the Christ-mas – means the sending of the Christ) and looks forward to the future reign of Christ. Eschatological expectation – a waiting for the Last Days when Christ will return in glory and triumph with the gathered saints – rather than personal penitence (again associated primarily with Lent) is the central theme of the season. Advent is a preparation for rather than a celebration of Christmas but it begins the Christmas season.
Take a moment with me now: what does Advent (the Coming) mean for you? What does the first Advent mean for you? How does it inform, shape, determine your approach to discipleship? What does the second Advent (the Second Coming of Christ, of Christ Risen, Ascended, Glorified, with all the saints) mean for you? How does it shape your present living and your hopes for the future?