The start of Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s year. This year it falls on 3rd December, and Bishop Samy, bishop of the North Africa Episcopal Area, will be with us.
In Advent, we look forward with eagerness and great anticipation to the coming of our Lord. For many people around the world, that means preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, which we remember at Christmas. And indeed, this is part of the focus of the Advent season. In the weeks leading up to Christmas we are reminded how the Old Testament as a whole points to the coming of the Saviour. We recall the lives of the Patriarchs, and listen to the voices of the prophets, before moving on to hear the message of John the Baptist, announcing the coming of the long-expected Messiah. We see the response of Mary, called to be the mother of our Lord, and finally celebrate with the shepherds and angels the birth of the Christ-child, Jesus the Saviour.
But that is only part of the focus of Advent. The other part is looking ahead to when Jesus will return again, as King, and in power and with great glory. This is the time for which we all need to prepare our hearts and minds, and we are urged to take this part of the message seriously, because it is of eternal significance to us. Nobody knows when that return will be, so Jesus calls us to be alert for that day – to watch and pray. In the words of one Advent prayer: May the Lord, when He comes, find us watching and waiting.
May you have a watchful and blessed Advent leading to a joyful and peaceful Christmas.