Dear Fathers, Friends and Colleagues,

The perspectives that we bring to our lives are truly amazing. It is well known that as we get older, time seems to fly by faster and faster. That is certainly true: to a child the time between one Christmas and the next seems almost never-ending, while to older persons the years seem to fly by at greater and greater speeds. Yet both children and older people coexist in the same universe, to which  each brings their distinct perspective. In a somewhat but not altogether similar way, one person may view the age in which we live as exciting and stimulating, while another sees it as dull or alarming. 

The sense of perspective is itself amazing. When I ministered to men in Northward prison there was behind me a copy of the famous picture of Christ and His disciples seated at the Last Supper, Among other things it was an artist’s study of perspective, with the main emphasis on Christ and the Twelve seated at an Italianesque table, but showing a view behind them at great depth. I pointed out to the men that the “depth” of the picture was accomplished by the artist upon a flat surface which itself was two-dimensional having no depth at all. I do not know for certain, but it seems possible that there are some who cannot sense the depth depicted by the artist, though probably most people do. Or perhaps there might be whole tribes somewhere in the world who have no experience of such artwork, and if exposed to it might not observe the depth that we understand is being depicted, but just see the various colours on a flat canvas. To me in the prison and I hope to my audience, this “depth” depicted faith. Without depth the artist’s rendition was “flat”. Without faith, our lives are incomplete. When we have faith, while we live in the same universe as those who do not have faith, we see it quite differently because of the perspective of faith.

So we can think of the message of both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself as a message of the unveiling of a perspective on life - a “depth-dimension” - that for centuries had been obscured. 

In our own time, however, the flat-lifers are fighting back hard, many of them from positions of high authority in human institutions, and of this we need to be aware and ready to encounter.

The Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent is

O Lord Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

In this prayer the “ministers and stewards of thy mysteries” - those who in spite of manifest human frailties have been given the great responsibility, as St. John the Baptist was, of “preparing the way” of the Lord’s Coming - are interceded for by the Church. The Church prays for them that in their ministry among people they may turn  “disobedient” hearts to the “wisdom of the just”. Indeed, the implication is that if the “ministers and stewards” of the Lord’s “mysteries” are not faithful in their task, that would affect negatively the outcome of the “second coming to judge the world”. 

It could be that the Lord has not already fulfilled that part of His promise to come - his “second coming” - for this very reason. His way has not sufficiently been “prepared and [made] ready” by us his “ministers and stewards”.

There is much to be done and that remains undone. Let us pray for faithfulness to His call.

For directions about the services this Sunday the 12th December, the 3rd Sunday in Advent, please see the website . 

In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance to us all.

+ Nicholas