Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for Hallam diocese, reflects on a season of challenge and beauty.
There were lots of people who thought our last Parish Priest was a bit of a misery- parishioners would shake their heads in sorrow whilst primary school teachers would tear their hair out in despair. The problem? He wouldn’t do Christmas during Advent. No Christmas dinners, no Christmas parties, not even Carols by Candlelight, a long-cherished parish tradition.
Increasingly, I find myself agreeing with him. The pub at the top of our road booked up for Christmas dinner sometime in September, whilst a few doors down there’s a house that’s been displaying an electronic countdown to Christmas from mid-October. If it wasn’t for my fear of CCTV and the criminal justice system, I would have stolen it by now.
Aside from everything else, the problem is that we’re missing out. When we jump over Advent and get straight into Christmas, we lose the opportunity to experience a season of beauty and meaning. We are culturally conditioned to be impatient, but waiting can bring us to a deeper sense of joy and reveal things that otherwise would be missed.
Our current parish priest is a bit different. He loves his parties and books Santa in for the kids every year, but he’s takes Advent seriously too. In his homily yesterday, he urged us to enter into it as a season of prayer, to renew our lines of communication with the Lord and dream of a world that should be a better place. Isn’t that the meaning of the Incarnation? Shouldn’t “God is with us” be a good thing?
CAFOD ‘s answer is an emphatic yes- making the world a better place is exactly what we are about. So Advent is a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect on the parts of the world where the answer appears to be no.
The Advent Calendar on our website offers a helpful way to do this.Today’s reflection focuses on Razir, a Syrian woman who fled to Lebanon because of the war, and her experience in the light of the Old Testament promise that nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war (Isaiah 2: 1-5). It makes for uncomfortable reading, yet our faith always offers us hope and, by putting our faith into action, we can also offer hope to Razir.
Advent looks to the coming of the light even whilst we still live in darkness. Yet, if we take the time to look, we can see God present in the darkest of places right now, calling us quietly to bring about his kingdom
Have a happy Advent!