Dear friends,

So, we begin the month that commemorates the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all of the shops will be filled with tinsel, crackers, fairy lights and trees, all eager to entice you in and buy presents for the family.  Each year I hear people say: ‘too soon, far too soon for Christmas lights and windows with snowmen’.  Well, I used to have a similar view, though now changed a little, but not for the reasons you might expect!

The ‘Cinderella period’ that is eclipsed by early Christmas bargains, is the rather beautiful four weeks of Advent.  Advent is seemingly pushed aside in the rush for the great day on the 25th, but that is a shame.  I feel that the four weeks of Advent, which begins on Sunday 3rd December this year, is very important to all Christians throughout the world. 

‘Advent’, is derived from the Greek word, parousia and means ‘coming’, anticipating the arrival, or ‘advent’, of Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited Messiah and King, written about in the Old Testament.  Like many churches, in this country and elsewhere, St Hilda’s adopts the tradition of the Advent Ring.  The ring, as the name implies, is a circular shape and symbolises God’s infinite love for us – it is never-ending, just like the true Light of the World, Jesus, who leads us into eternal life with him.  The materials of the Advent wreath similarly lead us to reflect on the everlasting nature of God; traditionally, Advent wreaths have been made of evergreen leaves, such as pine or fir, which maintain their green colour beyond the season in which they are collected.  

The Ring has four candles placed in it, three are purple and the other pink and there is a centre candle that is white and is lit at Christmas.  The candles are lit progressively each Sunday and these represent Hope (week 1); Prophecy (week 2); Joy (week 3) and Peace (week 4).  Advent, like Lent is a penitential season and both help us to prepare for the great feasts of Easter and Christmas. 

There is enough in the world to be sorry about, not least the continuing battle grounds of the Ukraine, Gaza, and Israel but each of us have things in our own lives for which we are sorry and perhaps need to say so to almighty God and seek his forgiveness.

Christmas will come soon enough but do come to St Hilda’s and share in, not only Christmas Day but in Advent too. 

Like others, I look forward to Christmas Day, to celebrating the joy of Christ’s incarnation, manifest in a stable at Bethlehem, to the joy of the shepherds, and to see the faces of children and hearing about what presents they have received. 

God bless you all, and may you have a happy and prayerful Advent and Joyous Christmas.

The Reverend Fr Ronald Croft

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