December 2018

“Keep watch … be ready” 
Matthew 24.42, 44  (NIV et al)

This Saying is offered for use during the waiting weeks of Advent, the festivities of Christmas, and the days that lead up to the turning of the year. 

The church’s year is a wonderful thing. First, it take us through the events of our Lord’s life with Bible readings, liturgical colours, seasonal hymns and festivals - keeping us on our toes, re-visiting yearly the depths of the Gospel story. But it also brings an awareness of the rolling of the years, the repeating sequence of seasons which follow each other as inevitably and regularly as night follows day. Chapters 24 and 25 Matthew’s Gospel deal with the long view, with the passage of time from the ‘now’ until ‘the close of the age’ and consider how people of faith are to live rightly in the context of this unknown and unknowable time span.

We cannot view our lives in any perspective other than the one that begins where we are at this moment. We know that our own human lives have a finite span, sometimes long and rich, sometimes cut abruptly short. It is sometimes hard for us to let go of concerns about R S Thomas’ ‘receding future’ and ‘imagined past’ *, and one of the best ways to do this is to grasp the present moment, the ‘bright field’. If we are to be alert to all the opportunities we are given and to live the day as it were our last, we have to watch, to be ready. Advent encourages us to spend some time filling our lamps with oil, looking at what we might do with our talents and to recognise the value of these waiting times.

And of course the Incarnation shows us that God does choose finite moments in time to reveal himself to us: so in our contemplative time we keep watch.… we hold ourselves ready….  He is the Lord of Eternity but he is always with us and there will be moments of revelation. And never more than when uniquely presented to us in a form that, with all our human limitations, we can reach out and grasp: a newborn child - Emmanuel, God with us. 

* ‘The Bright Field’ by R S Thomas