Tuesday, 30 November 2010

December Newsletter

‘A New Star’
And Winter fell. All at once it was Winter. All of a sudden the nights seemed very dark. Suddenly we were caught in huge raging storms and floods and bitter cold came upon us. Our lives so often reflect the change in the seasons, don’t they? We can go along quite merrily and happily, and then darkness falls. When Winter comes, our mood turns to a more sombre timbre too. The troubles of our world seem as ‘dark portents’ and press more heavily upon us; life becomes more of a struggle to battle through each day.
However, the coming of the bleak mid-winter is not all ‘doom and gloom’! One of the joys of the encroaching darkness is gazing up at the night sky. Here in Cornwall, we can pick out many constellations and patterns, and, on a clear night, the sky seems completely full of so many bright and gleaming stars.
How amazing it must have been for those three astrologers, two thousand years ago, gazing through their telescopes, and studying and charting the planets and their movements, to suddenly come upon ‘a New Star’ in the night sky, a new light, unrecorded and unrecognised before, much like when we come upon a previously undiscovered mammal in a rainforest or an aerial photograph reveals a previously hidden archaeological settlement in a field. No wonder these first Wise Men hurriedly loaded up their goods and chattels and their camels and horses in such haste, and went on a journey to discover what this ‘New Star’ might mean.
The kings can lead us to discover what Advent is all about: Darkness may fall; Winter may come; but, yet, ‘a New Star’ appears in the sky to lead us and entice us on a journey of discovery. In Advent we can become modern day wise men and women, not shut away in the ‘doom and gloom’ of Winter days and nights, but Advent journeyers, waiting for ‘the Light’ to come to us, to follow ‘the New Star’ that comes to light up the darkness of the night sky and our world in a ‘New Way’ and offering us a bright future in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is coming into the world.
Advent has many themes: coloured reflective purple, candles in the darkness, watching and waiting, preparing. But what are we preparing ourselves for? December can be full of extreme busyness, but, if we are true travellers and wise men and women, we will also take time to watch and wait for Jesus to reveal himself to us in ‘a New Way’ this Advent-tide, just like he did in the appearance of ‘the New Star’ in the sky two thousand years ago. Whether it be in your own private prayer-times and meditations this Advent or whether you join us for ‘Advent Sacred Space’ at All Saints, Marazion from 4-4.30pm on Saturdays and Wednesdays for a time of quiet meditation and preparation, we pray that, in the depth of this dark Winter, we will also give time to preparing our hearts to receive ‘the New Thing’ that God wants to reveal to us. As the prophet Isaiah predicted: ‘I am doing ‘a new thing’. Do you not perceive it’?
Happy Advent travelling and best wishes in all your preparations,
Revd. Nigel Marns
Rector United Benefice of Mounts Bay

Sunday, 7 November 2010

November Newsletter

Dear Friends,
One of the many benefits of living in a place like this, is the awareness you have of the changing seasons. We once had to live for several years in the centre of a big city, where the only real signs of late Autumn were a build-up of soggy leaves in the gutters, the shop lights coming on early and an occasional glimpse of a magnificent sunset behind a tower block. Here though, the signs of the year’s turning are everywhere. You can smell it in the air. You can see it in the glorious, low, slanting light; the lengthening shadows; and in the way the countryside reveals itself, showing its underlying structure and bare bones. Even the lights around the bay have a sharpness and a brightness on late October and November nights that they didn’t have a couple of months ago. Real country people seem to have an innate sense of all this. My Dad used to say that he could ‘feel backend coming on’, and there was, in that, a reassuring sense that the natural rhythm of the year was working itself out, as it always had. I think the turning of the Church’s year too, has more of a natural feeling in communities like ours. This year, we are celebrating the Feast of All Souls with a service in Ludgvan Church on the day the clocks go back, so dusk will already be gathering as the service gets underway. It seems a fitting start to our season of remembrance, beginning, as it does, with remembrance of our individual losses, and climaxing with the numerically far greater loss we mark on the 11th and on Remembrance Sunday itself. It’s a time of year I find overwhelmingly moving, and it takes us towards Advent in an appropriately reflective mood.

As Advent approaches, I love the sense you get of things drawing to a close and yet being filled with expectancy. These few weeks that are marked out by the Church as a time of inward renewal and preparation for Christmas, always seem like a gift – a precious opportunity to spiritually re-tune ourselves before getting swept up into the busyness of the festive season. It’s more than just recharging our batteries. There is a quietness and a stillness about this time of year that helps us to tap into the quietness and stillness that is at the very heart of prayer, and prayer of course, is at the heart of our relationship with God. So accept the gift of Advent. Make the most of the opportunity it offers to press the pause button, however briefly, and spend some quiet time with God. The poet RS Thomas describes how essential such time is:
‘…the silence in the mind is when we live best, within listening distance of the silence we call God…’

I hope that’s what this coming Advent will mean for you – a time when you learn to live more ‘within listening distance of the silence we call God’.

Yours with love, Lilian