Blink, and you’ll miss it.
Such is December, such is Advent, so easily squeezed by the busyness of the season, as we all get ready for Christmas.
Of course getting ready for Christmas is a big part of what Advent is about – but it is not the main thing.
The main thing, in Advent, is to be ready for the coming Kingdom, for the coming King. Ready, waiting, longing for the rule of justice and peace and joy to replace the mistrust, the broken promises, the tacky disappointments of the so called ‘real world.’
The Lord’s prayer is for the whole year, but what better time than Advent to pray with Jesus, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven’.
I hope many will join Bishop Libby and me for our ‘Advent Hope’ prayers online on Monday mornings or Thursday evenings.
But there will be plenty of other opportunities too in churches across the diocese – time to reconnect with God as we reassess the rest of life in the light of the coming Kingdom.
As well as its somewhat scary focus on the ‘Last Things’ Advent is there to help us put ‘first things first.’
In fact, Advent tells us, reality is breaking in on us, if only we would welcome it, and receive, it, and make it our own.
Reality is in the hidden presence and power of love, of God’s influence, God’s insistent call and claim on our lives and on the life of the world.
We meet reality face to face in Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection exposes the powers that be as a sham, and whose winsome teaching of the Kingdom beckons us towards a new world of infinite potential for faith, hope, and love.
Many of us will be using Advent calendars this month – opening a door each day, to unearth a hidden chocolate and bible text to encourage us, and to prepare us to open the door to Jesus and to the Kingdom.
From childhood I have always loved the sense of journey, of a pilgrimage, of progress, which this brings.
One year my dad and my big brother made me an advent calendar. That memory is very special to me.
Of course there is some apprehension, this year as last year, about the extent to which Christmas will happen ‘as normal’.
But let’s not settle for normal.
Let us pray that God will move amongst us rekindling our faith and our love, bringing healing and hope in dark times.
Hope for all - for those living in poverty, for those facing the cold with fear for their fuel bills, for those fleeing violence, for victims of discrimination and abuse, for those who are ill, for the bereaved, for everyone, especially for those who are weary, so weary after this last two years.
In Advent may God open our eyes again to the reality of his love:
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
"For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you." Isaiah 60.1-2
Bishop of Repton