Vicar's Column - December 2018
St John the Baptist Parish Church
We are living between the times, the now and the not yet – of Brexit. After all the torturous talks and negotiations, a (586 page) deal is on the table. It has squeezed through the Cabinet but will it get through parliament? Who knows what will have happened by the time you are reading this. We could still be looking down the barrel of a “no deal” exit from the European Union. Uncertain times, anxious times, not only for the British but also for those from elsewhere in Europe who have made their home here.
In similar vein, we now slide into Advent, the season of watching and waiting. It is important that we keep Advent in focus, while society skips ahead to Christmas. Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ. It provides an opportunity to look backto those who prepared the way for his first “coming” and we also look forwardto Jesus’ second “coming”, when he will return as our Lord and Judge. It is a time of expectant longing and self-examination, as we make ready our hearts for God’s Son to be born anew within us.
The practice of lighting candles on an Advent wreath reminds us of Jesus’ words about himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Each of the candles lit on the four Sundays before Christmas helps us to remember the different people who prepared for the coming of Jesus:
First Candle - The Candle of Hope - The Patriarchs eg. Abraham, the Old Testament Ancestors of Jesus, especially David
God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, because he trusted and put his hope in God. The Old Testament speaks of the coming of Jesus in terms of how a Saviour would be born, a king in the line of King David.
Second Candle - The Candle of Peace - The prophets who foretold the birth of Jesus
We remember the prophets who spoke of how a Saviour would be born. The prophet Isaiah refers to the messiah as "the Prince of Peace". When Jesus came he taught people that it was important to be reconciled with one another. He said that those who make peace shall be called the children of God. When Jesus comes to us he brings us peace.
Third Candle - The Candle of Love - John The Baptist
When they were very old, God gave to Zechariah and Elisabeth a son called John. John was Jesus’ cousin. John challenged people to repent of their sins and be baptised. He went around telling people that they should get ready because Jesus was going to arrive soon.
Fourth Candle - The Candle of Joy - Mary the Mother of Jesus
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that a special child would be born to her she was overjoyed, if but a little shocked. Just as the birth of Jesus gave great joy to his mother, so his presence in the world delighted a lot of other people.
The Last Candle (White) - Christmas Day - The Birth of Christ
We light our last candle - the white, extra special, one in the middle - to remember the birth of Jesus himself. Then it really is time to celebrate.
We need hope, peace, love and joy more than ever before in a world that this much marked by fear, division, hatred and cynicism. May you embark upon the journey to the crib this Advent, taking time to ponder and reflect upon the wonder of it all: how God, when the time was ripe, sent his son into the world to become one with us in all of our messy humanity.
Rev Dr Lisa Cornwell
Church Office (email@example.com )
- 01344 761521
Find St John the Baptist Parish Church
Waterloo Road, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7NT
There is ample parking along Waterloo Road, and around the back of the Church on the unmade road Church Street.