St Andrew, Glencairn

Glencairn Methodist Church

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Advent 2015

The Sunday themes of Advent

 There are a number of "linked" ideas that we encounter during Advent. For example in our Advent Wreath liturgy, we give names to the four candles lit respectively on the four Sundays in Advent. These names are The candle of Hope, The candle of Peace, The candle of Joy, and The candle of Love. Advent is a Season of preparation for Christmas and as part of that preparation we are encouraged to think of the "end times" when Jesus will return to judge the Earth and all its people, and this world will pass away and become a new creation. At least this is what Jesus tells us to Hope for, that we will pass the "Judgement Test" and gain eternal live with Jesus. This is when we shall truly be "at Peace" - with ourselves, with one another and with God. Heaven is a place of Joy but we also experience Joy now. We think of the Joy of the Angels when they announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds and the Joy of the shepherds themselves as they rushed down to Bethlehem to see that had happened. We get a foretaste of Peace and Joy as we celebrate Christmas, and we can anticipate the Love of God in the birth of this child. Take time to enjoy all of these emotions at Christmas especially when we light the fifth central candle called the Christ candle on the day which commemorates his birthday.

 Another set of linked ideas comes in the themes traditionally associated with the four Advent Sundays. These are "Judgement and the Second Coming", the "Patriarchs and the Prophets", "John the Baptist who is the Forerunner and Announcer", and "Mary, the virgin Mother of Jesus". Here we have the whole story of the Old Testament in a few words, the person who is the link between the Old and the New, and the New Covenant himself.

 About 4.8 billion years ago, scientists tell us, there was a big bang and everything came into existence. Well not exactly everything all at once, but enough stuff to allow the building of stars and galaxies, and planets and moons, including this little planet of ours, Earth. And the climate on Earth was just right to allow living things to come into existence, including us humans. And it seems to have been a nice place to live. And we came to believe that God was responsible for all this "creation" and we began to wonder why. And we seemed to think that God had asked us to look after Earth, all its plants and animals and people. And we saw that God loved us very much. But we messed up! As long as we had a nice warm house and a well stocked larder and two cars in the drive, we became very selfish and possessive and warlike in defending "ours" to the detriment of others and indeed, Earth. Wise Men, age after age, told us that God was unhappy about this state of affairs and that we would get our comeuppance. And we did. There were floods and wars and invasions and captivity and injustice and suffering and all the rest. But yet the Wise Men told us that God still loved us in spite of everything and wanted us to love Him. They said that one day a remnant of people who loved God and were sorry for messing things up would be saved and would go to live a New Life with God in a New Earth. You see, even scientists tell us that stars die along with their planets and all the stuff of the dead starts and planets will be recycled to make new starts and solar systems elsewhere in the universe. But our New Earth will not be one of these; it will be with God in the place we call Heaven.

 But what about us, the remnant of people who would survive? (Are you sure that you are among them?) Well. God had a plan, and the last of the Hebrew Wise Men (his name was John and we call him John the Baptist) had the job of telling us that God was about to intervene in a big way and help us to clean up the mess, at least in our own lives. He said that God himself was coming to pitch his tent with men, and to save us from our sins, our mess. And then there was Mary, the girl called to be the Mother of God, and Jesus was born and in his short life of 30 odd years he turned the world upside down.

 And the story will continue from now through Christmas and Lent to Good Friday and Easter Day. Don't miss the exciting episodes to come. And if you miss an episode, you can catch up, not on i-player, but on Bible-player. Just rewind a few pages.

Ken (8th December 2015)


 NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at