Vol 11 No. 51 The End of Advent, The Birth of Christ

Dear friends,

The joy of Advent and the coming of Christmas Eve and Day bring with it a flood of memories, mostly happy. For most of the time we were, as a family, poor. That is not a new experience for many who are reading this letter. It is not simply a distant memory; it is for many our present reality.

This is a season also full of regret, not the usual regret. Research shows that most people put on an average of 7 lbs between Halloween and New Years. I think the research must be wrong. I think it was meant to say between Halloween and the beginning of Advent!

No, the regret is not in the over-consuming, the cards not written, phone calls of friendship and reassurance not made; no, it’s that in this Advent I did not walk with the remarkable characters of this season who have much to teach me. Yet, they remain silent in my life, for I have not spent that kind of time in their presence that would have allowed me to benefit from them.

  • The faithlessness silence, awe, and joy of Zachariah.
  • The excitement of Elizabeth.
  • The trusting obedience of Mary to the living God so that she might indeed bring to us the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The courage of Joseph.
  • The incredible wonder of Simeon and Anna, who had waited on a faithful God only to be met in their own faithful response to Him as they met the infant Jesus.
  • The shepherds who while they were first frightened (how wise was that?), could scramble past their own fears, running through their fields and the outskirts of such a small town like Bethlehem to probably arrive winded, grubby, tearstained and wondrous at the sight of a babe that as Chesterton once said “There was once a stable that contained a child that was bigger than the whole world” (paraphrase) – and indeed the angels declared Him so, and the wise men acknowledged Him for just that.
  • And then there was Herod, the temporary power of the brutal who reminds us of the futility of the fear monger, the banality of the barbaric, the elixir of evil that pours out its trauma on the more vulnerable… ah yes, Herod. Malcolm Guite in his poem Refugee,sums up in 2 simple lines as a reminder of God’s judgement on us all.

    But every Herod dies, and comes alone

    To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.

It is the lessons and the people I have still not allowed to mentor me, yet again. Yet again. But they have much to say. Even now, come Lord Jesus. And might I come running like the shepherds, having heard the message that He is born and to be in the tumult of my business and buying, my singing  and my chatter, silent before the gift of the Christ child to the whole world. The whole world, but also in me.


In Christ,


Advent 2015