This week, the week before Advent, is the week in the church’s year of Christ the King. I once heard a priest proclaim, at the end of a communion service in the chapel at Lambeth Palace - just across the water from the Houses of Parliament (and where Cranmer wrote the Book of Common Prayer) - that Christ the King is the one truth in a world of uncertainties. True then, and true now – we live in anxious times.
This year we are launching a series of blogs on our facebook page (20+) University of Bath Chaplaincy | Facebook on the themes of Advent. The four traditional advent themes for the four advent Sundays are:
- God's people -The Candle of Hope. Hope is like a light shining in a dark place
- The old testament prophets - The Candle of Peace
- John the Baptist - The Candle of Love
- Mary the mother of Jesus - The Candle of Joy
Advent – Christ is coming. We pause and prepare to welcome him afresh into our hearts, souls, and lives. Are we ready?
And welcome who? The Son of God, yes! Christ the King. But how did he first come? For me this is the extraordinary fact. He comes as a tiny helpless baby – totally dependent on his parents - His mother Mary for loving care, feeding and cleaning, and his father for protection and safety. His parents suffer the disgrace of having a baby outside wedlock. “Who was the father? Well, they say that… But good old Joseph for sticking by her…“. And born in perilous circumstances. I sometimes imagine the celebration in heaven when Jesus is born safely, and the angel spill out to tell the shepherds “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men and women on whom his favour rests”.
So how do we prepare this year – a year when everything is so different and everyone is so tired. I have recently been given wise advice. When we are all giving out more than normal – to care and help each other - we need to top up our spirit reservoirs. How do we nurture ourselves? It is good to think about this. We must. I have been encouraged to look at several things: exercise – walking is good, making music, sleep, seeking the support of others, and prayer. Set aside quality time to listen to God. Read, or put on some music. Set aside time… this is good advice for me, and I am trying. Living is life-long learning – and thank God, God is so patient!
I conclude with this week’s world-wide prayer:
Whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne in heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
Keep the church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Spirit
one God, now and forever