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Church News Volume 6, Issue 1 (December 2004 / January 2005)

Dear friends,

By the time you reads this newsletter Advent will have arrived. The season of Advent is not just about preparing for the Christmas celebrations, although that is an important theme of the season. Advent is rather a time to contemplate the coming of Jesus, not just as a past event in the stable in Bethlehem, but in the future, as King and Judge. Advent is primarily the season of thinking about the 'Last Things'.

The Christian message contains within it the belief that Jesus will return one day soon, to judge both the living and the dead. This day of accountability, when the secrets of all hearts will be disclosed, when we shall have to answer for the things we have done, (maybe more importantly for the things we have failed to do), is a theme not just of Christianity but of many other religions of the world too.

Life will come to an end, not just our life but all life as we know it, and there will be a day of reckoning.

The first Christians believed that Jesus would return in their own life time, a short while after He had ascended back to Heaven. As time passed and they realised this was not going to be immediate, they set about ordering the structures of the Church and writing and recording the Gospel stories about Jesus. But in the early church their was a sense of immediacy, a sense of urgency, a sense of being prepared at all times for the Lord's return.

'No one knows the day or the hour' said Jesus. Like a thief in the night the Son of Man will return to judge.

We have lost that sense of urgency over the years. In the season of Advent (in fact ever since the beginning of October!) we have been pressurised by the media to prepare for Christmas feasting.

But should the Lord return before Christmas would He find us ready to greet Him?

Do we get so caught up in the secular buying of presents, parties and holidays that we forget the essential message of Advent and of the Christian Faith?

Advent calls us to stop and consider. The Lord will return just as He promised. The day of our salvation is nearer today than when we first believed.

Are we ready if it should happen tomorrow, next week, next year and the Lord return?

I certainly hope so for there will be no excuses!

Jesus told a story of bridesmaids waiting patiently for the bride groom to arrive with oil lamps trimmed and ready. But when the bride groom's arrival was later than expected some had not enough oil in their lamps and when they were away buying more the bride groom arrived and entered the feast leaving those who were unprepared outside.

Be ready, be alert are the messages of Advent. Judgement is coming! Yet, do not be afraid, stand firm, hold your heads up high, for the Lord has 'comforted' His people, He has 'redeemed' those who love Him.

'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who so ever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.' (John 3:16)

Yes, the Lord is coming to judge, but He is also coming to save.
Our judge is also our saviour.
That is the message of Christmas.
He is the baby born of Mary.
Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

May you have a thoughtful Advent, a joyful Christmas, and may you find yourself prepared to meet the Lord this New Year.

Revd Ian M. Finn

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Sunday 04 March 2018