Wednesdays in Advent 7pm
Every Wednesday (at 7pm) in Advent, Holy Trinity will run a Bible study. The theme throughout this month will be one of waiting expectantly… for something exciting to happen.
I can still remember the feeling I had as a child on Christmas Eve… knowing that presents would magically appear the next day. One of my most vivid memories is waking up to feel the weight of a now full stocking on the end of my bed.
Now it seems that we are encouraged to look forward to Christmas for months beforehand… usually to encourage us to buy things, but despite this, the feeling of expectation is very real.
Even as adults, when some of the magic of childhood is gone, people still look forward to Christmas.
It is not only people who have a Christian understanding of Christmas who look forward to this festive season. People who have a very secular understanding of Christmas look forward to this time for other reasons. What is it they are waiting for? What is the promise they hope for? How is this different from… or the same as the traditional Christian understanding?
At Christmas, something powerful is going to break into the world and radically transform the whole of Creation. The way the prophet Isaiah describes it, the whole landscape will be shifted and changed. Mountains descend into the earth, and valleys flatten out. This is awesome power. But alongside this we have the imagery of the shepherd gently carrying a lamb in his arms. Awesome power, and homely and familiar love, mixed together.
There are two aspects to expectation. First: the idea that there is something which is not right with the world. There are impassible hostile mountains, and there are dangerous and foreboding chasms. Second: there is a promise that the world can be put right. The chasms become sun dappled valleys, and the mountains gentle hills. And the sheep roam protected by a loving shepherd.
I think that even a secular understanding of Christmas falls into this pattern… there are problems in our lives… and a holiday, or more time with the family, or more stuff will fix these problems, so we think. Perhaps it does to an extent – but Christmas, and what it offers a much greater gift, according to our faith, of God coming into the world, in person!
Each week we will share our own reflections on the Christmas story, and share our Advent journey together, by praying, singing, and meditating on the Holy Scriptures - concentrating particularly on the characters of Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary, and Joseph, and how they also sat waiting for something amazing to come into the world.