I like Advent. Its urgency and energy is invigorating. For the exhausted this may not be a helpful message, but for them (as for us all) there is the prospect of what we commonly refer to as, “light at the end of the tunnel.” Advent holds both of these things, but not in a way that is commonly experienced in society. Christ’s coming engenders both the blazing torch of John the Baptist’s searching warnings, stiffening our resolve; and the promise of the coming of a Saviour, with all the hope that it is possible to give, that grants us a peaceful and happy heart.
Musically, Liturgically, Scripturally, the days of Advent are filled with timeless messages that have spoken to every age of the Christian era, and still bring their power and inspiration to a new generation of the Church each year. Today at Morning Prayer we read some parables from Matthew chapter 13: the man who sowed good seed in his field but weeds came up as well - don’t we know it - then the parable of the mustard seed, and that of the leaven in the flour. These are all action-orientated parables and are a good example of the mix of Advent hope and warning.
I have a habit of announcing how many days until Christmas, which is inclined to ratchet up tension, and i shouldn’t do it. Something along the lines of, “Well, three weeks today is Christmas Eve! Usually I am thanked for my observation with heavy irony, and we satisfy ourselves with opening another door of the Advent calendar……