From the Rectory December 2017 

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life


SIMON WARD 12-2018Rev Simon Ward
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish


I wonder if you’ve received any Christmas cards yet. As I write it is mid-November but I’ve noticed that in the shops they have come out of hibernation and are gently flaunting themselves ever closer to the consumer
When I was a boy, the first Christmas card received was from my aunty which would drop on the doormat about December 1st. It was always one of those massively fluffy ones with smiling cartoon dogs smothered in ribbons and bells while opening a brightly wrapped present. The arri­val of this card was like an additional herald to the season of Advent. I also heard “Do they know it’s Christmas time?” for the first time this year in a shop on 3rd November just to nudge me in the right direction
Advent begins this year is Sunday 3rd December which is as late as it can be. Technically this means you get a special extra bonus two chocolates in your average advent calendar because most calendars we buy in the shops will have 25 windows for you to enjoy. You can accept these as an extra treat before the work of Advent begins in earnest
So what is Advent all about? It is a season of preparation for Christmas but it is more than that. It is a season marked by expectation when the church looks forward: not just to another happy Christmas but to the coming of God as judge at the end of time. The traditional themes of the four Sundays are death, judgement, heaven and hell. We can’t get too cosy and start cooing over the manger quite yet! These eternal themes yearn and look beyond the limitations of our present age to a time when the fullness of God is revealed. I urge you to use Advent wisely as a season in itself and not just as a few weeks of hectic busyness before collapsing in a heap come Christmas
Years ago I picked up a devotional book for Advent which many find a helpful thing to do. Each day it gave a reading, reflection and prayer but also a practical exercise to carry out. Early on it suggested opening a drawer, emptying it and putting everything back in order (I am sure we all have a drawer which would benefit from this!). This somehow seems like a picture of what we are trying to do in Advent: put our lives in order before God and to prepare our hearts to welcome him fully into our lives

Enjoy this season as we all prepare and look forward. I wish you all a holy and peaceful Advent as we wait and prepare again to celebrate the gift of God’s Son to us all
With every blessing, Fr Simon


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