by Brian Roberts, Provincial Grand Chaplain
Brethren, last year at this time I wrote a piece for you entitled “The Advent of the second lockdown” in which I anticipated on your behalf the possibility of the second lockdown ending. How wrong could I be! Here we are again in Advent a year later and lockdown is still being rumoured and debated. Life is very difficult to plan for in this situation yet we are resilient creatures and need to proceed with life as best as we can within the law. Let us hope that the disappointments and rearrangements of last year are not repeated as Christmas is a time for families to be together as far as possible, and for those without families to feel at least a sense of hope and some belonging to society.
Sunday 28th November was the first Sunday in Advent, which lasts until Christmas Day. Advent is named from the Latin “adventus” meaning coming or arrival and it is meant as a time of contemplation whilst we await the second coming of Christ. Advent is therefore the beginning of a new church year and it directs us to the hinge and hub of the whole year to follow. When we start the liturgical year we are setting out to follow in the footsteps of Christ. In the course of the year we will relive His whole life and teaching which will pass before us.
One of the readings for the new church year is traditionally the entering of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As an Advent reading it causes us to behold our King who comes to us during this season. The people must have wondered at the time who Jesus was –was He the son of David,a prophet,a king,the Messiah? He would have been seen on different levels no doubt by the population of the time-some would have genuinely seen Him as their Saviour whilst others perhaps would have looked at Him in terms of a King would provide prosperity and glory. Yet He was then and still is now a humble, scripture fulfilling King bearing the burdens of the world and who saves us through His ultimate sacrifice.
Advent takes us back in time brethren so that we may become appreciative of the greatness that we are heirs to. We are the heirs to the promises that the Great Architect made to the prophets.
Within the church the liturgical colours change from the green of Trinity to the purple of Advent. The colour change is a symbol of a period of hope, during which time ceremonies specific to Advent take place, including the lighting of the Advent candles culminating in the last being lit on Christmas Day. That is a joyful day in the church year. Even though we have made the journey recounted in the Bible many times we relive it each year as new and vibrant and alive, never allowing it to grow dull and lifeless. We are not spectators in this story but actors-it is not like some old video. So as we approach Christmas time let us be hopeful for the life to come whatever it may hold for us. May I wish you and your families good health and prosperity during the forthcoming Christmas period.
Finally, let us offer a prayer to the great Architect-for those who live without faith and have nothing to hope for; for those whom we have lost that the Great Architect may keep them in His care, and for our own special needs, and that we may be protected from anxiety. SMIB.