Dear Fathers, Friends and Colleagues,

Advent" refers in the Latin language to a great “coming to” us, and we are particularly reminded of the great forerunner John the Baptist when he finally emerged from his many days or months in the wilderness charged with the great message of that great coming. For John and his hearers it was the long-awaited coming of the days foretold by prophecy some 450 years in the past, the Day of the Lord. In the context of this message Jesus Himself also emerged but from a different kind of wilderness. This was the wilderness of the humdrum ordinary life of the village Boy, the elder Brother of the children of Nazareth's local Fix-it man, Joseph. Often must have been the times when the Boy reflected on those heady few days when He had amazed the nation’s teachers in the Temple, God’s House, with His questions and answers, so much so that even the anxiety of His parents about where He had got to was a small matter compared to the significance of those short few hours in God His Father’s House - already about God His Father’s business.

Then after those days we learn that He had returned with His family in the state of obedience to His parents that was expected of an eldest son, even one as remarkable as this Son, whose greatness did not go altogether unnoticed, however few of the locals recognised in Him any prophetic material.

His prayer life grew as He matured to and in adulthood and by some means not altogether shown to us, He knew by the Holy Spirit that the time was coming for His revealing to the sons of Israel, and His first action was to identify with His cousin’s great message. He received John”s baptism, because it was He who was the One that John proclaimed was to come.

So we observe that Advent, Christmas and Epiphany may be separated in time, but all are really one. We prepare for the Lord’s coming, He comes, He reveals the Kingdom and He will Come again.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is

O Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

As we pray to God our Father to “come among us, and with great might succour us”, we admit still the place of “our sins and wickedness” in acting upon us negatively: we are “sore let and hindered”: but because He comes and helps (succours) us we are assured of His “bountiful grace and mercy” that “speedily” helps and delivers us. So it is that finally we are assured that Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are not a burden but rather signals of grace - the Gospel, the Good News, the succour of great might coming among us.

O Lord, raise up thy power and come among us!”

For directions about the services this Sunday the 19th December, the 4th 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