BBC Radio Lincs Advent Sunday 2019
Today is Advent Sunday and the countdown to Christmas begins. For many this will mean opening a little door on an Advent Calendar which may reveal a small chocolate or perhaps something even more luxurious. In churches we tend to light an advent candle marking the four Sundays of Advent – the light getting stronger as we get closer to Christmas. Today we light the first candle which is often associated with the Old Testament Patriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel. These ancestors are not simply part of the pre-history of the Christmas story they are part of the story. In the Jewish tradition Abraham is our father: his story is part of our story and tells us about ourselves.
Stories are really important, especially the ones that tell us our history: they shape our values and help us locate ourselves in the world today. On this Sunday I often think of the people who have been most influential on me – Some of them, like my grandmother, I have known; others lived long before I was born but their story has become part of who I am. Not all of those I think about are actually relatives – an example of this is Mala, a former work colleague, who came to this country with her father for an arranged marriage with a man she had never met. I learned so much from her about what choosing to love really means. The stories of all these people have become part of my story.
The next candle on the advent wreath (which we will light next Sunday) recalls the prophets – those women and men who challenge the prevailing worldview and ask tough question about the way we view ourselves and the world. There are quite a few prophetic figures that have been influential in my story so far.
These two groups – the patriarchs and the prophets – help us prepare to hear again the good news of Christmas. They challenge us to look at ourselves; the values and ideas that we have inherited and have come to accept as our own. But they also ask us challenging questions about how we use all of that story which we have inherited to live life to the full in the world of today. The Patriarchs and prophets point us to the Christ-child – God’s gift of love to the world. And they encourage us to find something more of that love in our lives such that love becomes the dominant theme of our story.
I hope you have a blessed advent.