Musings From The Manse
December 2017 & January 2018
How do you wake up in the morning? Are you one of those who loves to be up at the crack of dawn, greeting the day with energy and anticipation, or do you groan at the sound of the alarm clock and struggle to get out of bed? I seem to find myself going into hibernation mode as the days shorten, and so on dark winter mornings I almost always want to turn off the alarm and enjoy a few more moments in bed, before eventually dragging myself out to face the day. (The great danger, of course, being that I will drift off back to sleep and end up getting up late!)
The theme of Bible readings during Advent is often about the need for wakefulness, the requirement to stay alert and watchful. This, of course, is in a spiritual sense. We need our physical sleep: rest and sleep are one of nature’s methods of healing, and I imagine most of us know how, when we are physically exhausted and run-down, we are more prone to infection or to stress and depression.
There is a difference, however, between ensuring we get our proper rest and giving in to lethargy and idleness, and it is the danger of spiritual lethargy and complacency that we are warned against in our Advent readings. It is too easy to see Advent simply as a time of waiting for Christmas; of course, that is part of it, particularly for children with their Advent calendars marking off each day until the 25th. But we also need to remember that Advent is a time when we should focus not just on preparations for Christmas (have we sent the cards, bought the presents and the food etc.) but also on preparing ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ. The trouble with that, I think, is that almost 2000 years of waiting for Christ’s promised return has rather diminished the sense of urgency.
All the more reason therefore, to ensure that we are spiritually alert and watchful, that we do not get into habits of lethargy where our faith is concerned. The Roman Catholic writer, Flor McCarthy, points out that there is a danger that we become Christians by habit only, merely going through the motions, taking part in rituals that have lost their freshness and meaning. Advent reminds us that Jesus is coming and not just in our remembrance of his birth in Bethlehem; he will come to each of us at our death and he will come to the world at the End Time. As McCarthy says, ‘We have to be ready. How? By being alive, alert, responsible servants of the Lord and one another.’
God bless you all, and may you welcome Christ into your hearts and lives this Advent and Christmas season and throughout 2018.
Love and Blessings,
Loving God, as Jesus brought love, rekindle love in me so that the birth of the baby in Bethlehem may be a beginning and not an end. Amen.
And here is your long-awaited Christmas joke…
Q Why did the boy take a ruler to bed with him?
A Because he wanted to see how long he slept!
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