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Advent Sunday 2008

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Advent Sunday

A perpetual memory of His precious death

until He comes again

 

I spent over twenty years of my managerial career working in the retail trade in the West End of London, and when you have to arrange for eight windows and you are on Oxford Street to be ready in time for the Christmas trade, which seamed to start earlier and earlier each year, you can not seam to start earlier enough as you will always find some one else had started earlier then you. It always seamed like a race about who could start first.

When you look at the shop windows today, Christmas seams to have already started and each year it seams to start earlier and earlier so much so that the message and meaning of Advent seams to have disappear.

The thought of Christ’s return and the day of judgement are not the things that the world is longing to hear at this time, because they seam to speak of something uncomfortable for us all.

However they are part of the Gospels and the Creeds and even in The Prayer of Consecration that the Priest says each time he celebrates the Holy Communion. “A perpetual memory of His precious death until He comes again”

 

In today’s world you often hear people say what is the point of life on earth? Is there any evidence to suggest it will go on indefinitely?

The answer to questions like this is not to look at the materials with which we start with, but at the purpose for which they are given.

For example the keys on a music instrument like a organ or piano only make sense when they are played in the right order, as a piece of music otherwise it is just a lot of noise.

The letters of the alphabet only start to have any meaning when they are made up into words and sentences otherwise it is just a lot of marks on a piece of paper.

The end must precede the means and this is why Advent is so importance.

The clue to the climax of history has already been disclosed in the coming of Jesus Christ; in one sense the day of judgement has already taken place.

For this is the judgement that light has come in to the world and that men love darkness rather then light, Jesus Christ is the light by which we pass judgement on ourselves, not everyone welcomes that but those who do receive Jesus Christ begin to experience a new life a new age.

As we dwell in Him and He in us we taste the life that is beyond death, that is eternal life which must be seen as a quality of life rather than anything else.

If it has already happened then, what did Christ mean when he said,

And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27)

It is not easy to answer a question like this for we are trying to describe something which is beyond time; to define what is indefinable as we belong to the dimension of time and cannot step outside of it, in order to see what it is.

The return of Christ is not really an event in history at all; it is not something we could read about in the newspapers on see on the TV the next day.

The return of Christ would be such an event that no other event could either follow or need follow it, because in it the whole purpose of God is revealed and fulfilled and history would have reached its goal.

Archbishop Michael Ramsey while still a Bishop was reported on being asked by the vicar of a church where he was preaching if he would welcome the singing of Charles Wesley's hymn, 'Lo, he comes with clouds descending,' was tempted in his reply at first to say 'No' because he had thought the imagery misleading.

However he changed his mind and said, 'The words express the hope that in a way beyond our imagining, in a way which all imagery is inadequate, Jesus will come to us and we shall find ourselves with him.'

Not knowing when Jesus will come means we must work and live each day as if our last, yet plan for a hundred years or more, as the work of redemption is not yet completed.

We know what Christ is going to do by what he has already done, as we exist in between the two great comings. 'Christ came the first time to initiate; and He will come again to complete His work.

We all should be in a state of eager anticipation and expectancy, as we are longing for that complete and permanent union with Jesus Christ, which could come at any moment.    

As well as being Advent Sunday to day is also the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle and the patron saint of Scotland.

Andrew was one of Jesus twelve apostles and first appears in the New Testament as a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 40).

But after hearing John the Baptist say, “Look, there is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36), in referring to Jesus, Andrew and another unnamed disciple followed Jesus and stayed with him for a day (John 1:36–39).

Andrew then told his brother, Simon Peter, that he had found the Messiah and brought Peter to Jesus (John 1:40–42), after which Andrew seamed to fade into the background with only occasional reference being made to him (Mk 1:29; 3:18; 13:3; John 12:22),

as his brother Simon Peter became the more prominent brother.

Whenever the relationship of the two brothers is mentioned, Andrew is always described as the brother of Simon Peter and never the other way around (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16; Jn 1:40; 6:8),

Andrew was probably one of the members of the early group of disciples that is mentioned in Johns Gospel (2:2, 4:2) but it seams that he did not stay long with Jesus as he went back to fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and living in Capernaum where he shared a house with his brother Simon Peter and his family. (Mt 4:18–20; Mk 1:16–18, 29–33).

It was while fishing one day that Andrew and Peter received a call from Jesus to follow him and they gave up a life of fishing for fish to become fishers of man.

From among the disciples of Jesus a group of twelve were later specially chosen as Apostles,  and Andrew is always listed in the top half of that group, along with his brother Peter (Mt 10:2–4; Lk 6:13–16; Acts 1:13).

Andrew is named in the feeding of the 5,000 when he brings to Jesus’ attention the boy who had five barley loaves and two fish (Jn 6:8–9).

He is also named when certain Greeks came to Philip, asking to see Jesus, Philip told Andrew and then the two of them told Jesus (Jn 12:20–22). And he is also listed among those who were questioning Jesus privately on the Mount of Olives (Mk 13:3–4).

The last New Testament mention of Andrew is in the list of apostles waiting in the upper room in Jerusalem for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12–14).

According to tradition Andrew was martyred on an X-shaped cross which has since become known as St Andrew’s cross,

and another tradition says that one of Andrew’s arms was taken to Scotland as a relic.

As well as being one of the twelve Apostles, Andrew is the

Patron Saint of Scotland, so as we all prepare for Christmas let us not forget the great importance of Advent and St Andrew to the Church and ourselves.

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