No. 17 - 04th December 2016

If you’ve got any children in the house you may be working your way through an Advent calendar, and will have now finished opening all the little windows for the first week of Advent. I’m sure for most children it’s just a fun way of counting down the days to when they can open all their presents. But that’s not the real purpose of the calendar. The word Advent comes from the Latin Adventus, which means “Coming” and obviously refers to the coming of Christ when he was born in a stable in Bethlehem a little over 2000 years ago. However, the Latin Adventus is a translation from the Greek Parousia, which also means “Coming,” but is generally used by the Church to refer to the Second Coming of Christ, at some time in the future. So these four weeks of Advent are a period of looking forward to the Second Coming for part of the time, and then looking back to the events that took place on that first Christmas Day when Christ was born.

By now, lots of schools will be working on their Nativity plays, with Joseph and Mary watching over the baby Jesus. The Three Wise Men standing by and all of them surrounded by shepherds with their tea towels wrapped around their heads and a few sheep and cows thrown in. Looking at this cosy, and often humorous little scene, it’s easy to overlook the immensity of what was happening that night. We’re told that God put on flesh and in some miraculous way became a human being like you and me. He didn’t just materialise in some exotic palace, surrounded by gentlemen and courtiers. Instead, the Lord of the Universe chose to suffer the indignity of childbirth in a grubby stable amidst the poor and their domestic animals.

Well, that was the first coming. But the Second Coming will be entirely different. Next time, he won’t return as a helpless baby in a manger, but in a fantastic blaze of glory. A King returning to claim his rightful kingdom. Or, in the words of Isaiah the prophet. ‘Who is this, robed in splendour, striding forward in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, (the Lord), proclaiming victory, mighty to save”’. Wow! What a day that will be! Like no other day in history.

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