It can be really tempting in a December letter to launch in straight away and wish you all a very happy Christmas, but that would be to ignore the season of Advent. It’s a time in which we anticipate the birth of the Saviour by looking back through the scriptures so that we can be reminded that the Saviour we look for was spoken of by the very earliest Old Testament figures.
Traditionally each candle of the Advent wreath represents a part of that prophecy. The first candle represents the Patriarchs – our ancestors in faith like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. The second is for the prophets – God spoke to his people through prophets to point them towards the coming of a Saviour. The third is for John the Baptist – he prepared the people for the coming of the Lord by helping them to acknowledge the sin in their life and bringing them to baptism. The fourth candle is for Mary – through her faithful obedience to God, Mary delivered the one who would deliver us.
So often as we hear the scriptures read in church, we forget that they form part of that grand story, stretching back to the beginning of creation and forward to the new creation that God promises. It’s so important that we each spend time with the scriptures, to listen to God speak to us through them; to learn of our place in God’s grand story of salvation.
To support us in this, the way we listen to the scriptures on Sunday morning is going to change slightly from the beginning of Advent. Rather than hearing two readings from the bible, each week we will instead hear three – one from the Old Testament, one from a New Testament letter and one from a Gospel. Hearing these three passages of scripture side by side will hopefully help us to recognise the way that God continues to be at work in his people throughout history.
Advent is a time of anticipation - but just as the scriptures prepared God’s people for the coming of the Saviour, so the scriptures will prepare us for the new Kingdom that is to come. Let us each resolve this Advent to take more seriously study and reflection on God’s word. As the psalmist writes:
‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a truly blessed new year.