Advent

Rev. Margaret's sermon from the 1st of December 2013

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Today marks the start of a new Church year and is a really significant time in the Christian calendar. Yet, as we enter Advent I wonder what thoughts are going through your mind this morning. Possibly for you, as for me, the fact that we’ve entered Advent is reminding you of just how soon Christmas will be upon us again and of all that there is to do in the next four weeks.

Like me, you may be wondering how you will fit everything in, do all that needs to be done and be ready for the big day. Christmas is always such a busy time and the whole point of the festival and the period of preparation before it can all too easily get lost as we get caught up in our own preparations.

For me, today is also a significant day because it is the first anniversary of my becoming your Priest-in-Charge. For us here in this parish of Whaley Bridge 1st marked the beginning of our journey together as we sought and continue to seek ways to bring the good news alive in this town and look for ways to build up the body of Christ. I have to be honest and say that it’s not been an easy year for me but I am finally feeling that there are now a growing number of people who are grasping a vision of what it means to live and grow as the Body of Christ in Whaley Bridge and are seeking ways to implement it.

The Study Course that has run during November has been really well supported and has challenged us to think about our faith and how we put it into practice here in the 21st We have had to face the fact that what has kept us coming to church may not meet the needs of people today and to think what this might mean. Even preaching a sermon like this could be off-putting to some. But, I believe that many of us have also December 2012 Century. been encouraged by the course and to realise that we need to be ready to embrace change as we grow in love and care for one another and begin to reach out more to those around us. We have a chance to grasp the moment and allow others to see what living and growing as the body of Christ means. And today is a God-given chance to make a new beginning in our following of Jesus and I pray that we will take this chance together. I am also reminded of what Bishop Robert said last year when he said that he hoped we would not be undertakers or caretakers but risk-takers for the Kingdom of God.

The season of Advent helps us to prepare for Christmas and the message for today is that of a wakeup call. St Paul tells us, it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep – to be spiritually awake. And being spiritually awake means being open and receptive, attentive to God and to others. It means living in love.

As members of this church we really have two options: we can be awake or asleep, a watcher or a sleeper. It’s easy to be a sleeper but sleepers waste their lives. It’s harder but very much more rewarding to be a watcher. To watch means to be awake, to be alert, to be concerned, to be active, to be interested, to care. Jesus urges us to stay awake, to be on our guard, to be on the watch. We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from answering Advent’s wake-up call.

Advent helps us to remember and appreciate the great blessings God has given us in his Son, Jesus. It encourages us to hope and my hope and prayer today is that we will walk together on our journey and will grow together in love and service as we seek to draw others to join us on the road. Let us seize the day!”