Sunday 13th Dec
It seems incredible that we’re celebrating the third Sunday in Advent already! I know Christmas adverts have been on the TV seemingly for months but I feel as though it’s all crept up on me unawares.
We’re delighted that our retirement home is ours again after nearly 7 months of uncertainty. So we have a move to plan for now as well as the birth of Christ. I think we’ll be moving out mid-January, with my last service on 27 December.
So preparation has a particular meaning in our household this year. I’ve always been a list person. It helps me feel I have at least some semblance of control over complex tasks, so I’ll be writing a few in the next week or so.
The old way of keeping seasons of penitence, either Lent or Advent, was to do the same – to make a list. This list was of all the faults you could identify in yourself and making them the basis of your prayers throughout the season. We’ve rather played that down in recent years, preferring to focus on the positive instead. And there is a good reason for that. We do so much better all round when we are praised, when we have high self-esteem. So penitence seems out of kilter with the modern world.
But perhaps every now and again, we do need reminding that we are not superhuman, that we’re not God and that we are, to use a really old-fashioned word, sinners. For then we are in the right place to be ready for that joy, love and peace that Jan talks about in her reflection, when the birth of a child in Bethlehem is a wonder and a gift to a weary and shop soiled people. The grace and healing that he brings is only fully appreciated by those who are conscious of how far they fall short.
So continue to use Advent for self-examination. Keep writing those lists!