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From the Vicar - December 2022

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From the Vicar

It’s difficult to believe that, by the time you read this, it will be Advent, and many of us will have begun the countdown towards Christmas.

Advent is traditionally a time when Christians pause and reflect, and observe a season of waiting, before we celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day, and throughout the Christmas season.  However, it’s very difficult to maintain a period of waiting, and not begin our Christmas celebrations early, when – out of necessity – many of our Christmas services and events must take place some weeks before Christmas.  School nativities, Carol Services and Christmas parties must, of course, take place before schools break up in December.

It’s difficult to observe Advent as a period of waiting and reflecting, when we’re also watching nativity plays, attending Christmas parties, and singing Christmas carols.  Then, there’s presents to buy and wrap, cards to write, baking, sweet-making, decorating, and all the other practical tasks we do to get ready for Christmas.  But our Advent Carol Service in All Saints’ always helps me to pause and reflect and, at least, to acknowledge and mark Advent, before we gallop towards Christmas.

I wonder, how can you ensure that you have time to pause and reflect, this Advent, and enjoy the season of waiting, amidst all the busyness of preparing for Christmas?  Perhaps you could find a different Advent or Christmas carol each day, and spend some time reflecting on the words and their meaning? Perhaps you could read a poem a day?  Or a Bible passage?  Perhaps you could buy an Advent candle and spend some time each day, as the candle burns, reading a chapter of Luke’s Gospel?  (There are 24 chapters in Luke’s Gospel so, if you begin on 1st December, you’ll finish on Christmas Eve, and can then come along to our Crib Service (4pm) or to Midnight Mass, which begins at 11:30pm, to begin your Christmas celebrations).

If you like the idea of reading a poem each day in Advent, I can recommend Malcolm Guite’s Waiting on the Word, and Janet Morley’s Haphazard by Starlight.  If you prefer a novel, there’s The Advent Calendar, by our own bishop, Steven Croft; The Christmas Mystery and Through a Glass, Darkly by Jostein Gaarder; or – for younger readers and the young at heart – perhaps C S Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  If you prefer a more traditional Advent book, with daily Bible readings, reflections, a carol or hymn, and a prayer, then someone recently recommended Repeat the Sounding Joy, by Christopher Ash.

I’d like to end with a prayer-poem for Advent, written by Ruth Burgess:

Bright star-maker God,

travel with us

through Advent

shine into our dark corners

lead us into ways of justice

warm us with joy and wonder

bring us

to new birth.


I pray that you may find time, this Advent, to pause, reflect and pray, as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas; and I hope to see you at some of our Advent and Christmas events and services in All Saints’ Church.

May God bless you in this time of waiting, and give you his peace.  

With my very best wishes for Advent, Christmas and the New Year.

Revd Karen x