The Parish of Burchetts Green

The Rev'd Keith Nicholls writes

The meaning of Advent

It's been cold for the last couple of weeks! It wasn't just that we had recently returned from holiday in sunny Madeira and it seemed cold hack here; it really was cold. My wife Pam saw a photograph in a London newspaper of Hyde Park looking like it had just snowed. it hadn't, but the overnight frost had been so deep it appeared as if it was time to get out the sledge. The scene was beautiful. There's something uniquely attractive about a fresh fall of snow glistening on the branches of the trees, turning the dull greys and browns of the winter months into a dazzling white.

Surprisingly, snow makes several appearances in the Bible and nearly all of them are positive. The Bible promises to make us like the snow not cold, but deep shining white. 'Wash me, and I shall he whiter than snow' says the psalmist addressing God. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow,' God says to us through the prophet Isaiah.

The end of this month sees the start of a season in the church's year, called Advent. Advent is the season that runs up to Christmas. For many of us these weeks mean hectic activity as we try to get ready for the festive season. For children it is an exciting time and some of their excitement rubs off on us.

But the church's calendar asks us to take a step back from this. Advent is also a season of reflection. We reflect back on, and are encouraged to celebrate, the anniversary of Jesus' first coming into this world. We ponder again Jesus, the Son of God, taking on our humanity to free us from the tyranny of sin. And,, at the same time, we look forward to the time when Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, and recognise that we must be ready to meet Him.

Originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting. To be honest I could probably do with a period of fasting before the excesses of Christmas but I doubt I will!  Nevertheless, Advent is a time when we should stop, stand hack and examine the direction our lives are travelling and, if necessary 'repent' to make a change of course and ask God to make us 'whiter than the snow.,

We will begin Advent on Sunday November 28 at a special Advent Carol Service. This will be in St John's, Littlewick Green at 4pm. In the candlelight, we will sing some traditional Advent hymns and hear familiar Advent readings.

Why not join us and 'take a little time to reflect on the direction your life is taking.