ADVENT: EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED!
In Advent we enter a Season of Expectation. Everyone is expecting something. Anticipation fills the air. Children (and some adults too!) wonder at what gifts they shall receive, and those who buy things for others hope that their carefully-chosen presents will be liked and enjoyed. Adults wonder whether all the Christmas plans will work out, whether inclement weather will restrict or prevent travelling, and once everyone has safely arrived and been installed, whether those gathered around will get along alright! Many will wonder and worry about how all the cooking and food preparation will go, and whether the turkey will be tasty or over (or, perhaps, undercooked) this year! Personally, I am certainly looking forward to celebrating and sharing in my first Christmas with you in the Benefice. Expectation, anticipation, excitement and some concern fill these days of Advent.
In all our busyness and practical preparations of the Advent season, it is important that we allow the spirit of anticipation and expectation to fill our worship and prayer life: at Advent we prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming too, to ensure that we are ready to greet him when he arrives at Christmastime. Advent is a time to watch, wonder and wait (and that’s exactly why we began Advent with a ‘Service of Watching and Waiting’ on Advent Sunday this year). However good our preparations are, nothing, in my experience, ever goes quite according to plan, and we are often surprised by how things turn out in the end. In our Christian lives too we should expect the unexpected: no-one quite knows when or how Jesus will come to us this Christmastime. Often the wonder of the events of Christmas, of God coming to Earth as a tiny, vulnerable and fragile baby, can catch me at the least expected times and the seemingly least expected ways and places. For some, it may be through traditional routes that God comes to us and touches us once again: the candlelit service at Midnight or the joyful face of a child at Christingle; for others, it will be in the glory of the flashing lights (both inside our Churches (and particularly the Christmas Tree Festival at Marazion this year), or seeing the lights over the Bay, of which I’ve heard so much about; for some, it will be in the greeting and welcoming of friends and family, the long nights of conversation by the fireside; for others, receiving, a particularly special gift. But sometimes Jesus comes to us in new and unexpected ways: in the kindness of a stranger or when we hear a conflict has been reconciled and a new peace has broken out.
On her latest album, Enya sings:
‘Somewhere in a winter’s night,
the angels begin their flight.’
In Advent, it is good to draw close and attuned to God and to listen with eagerness and anticipation for Christ’s coming to us. As well as preparing our homes and families, let us also prepare our hearts this Advent to once again (and perhaps in an unexpected way) to hear the angel’s song and joyful tidings once again:
‘Glory to God in the Highest! Peace to his people in Earth! I bring you good news of great joy!
For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, Christ the Lord!’
In all our Advent preparations this year, let us leave enough space to hear the angels’ wings unfurl.
I wish you all a very anticipatory Advent and a Very Happy Christmas to come,
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector: Ludgvan, Marazion, Perranuthnoe & St Hilary