LETTER FROM THE VICAR
Advent is one of our reflective times of year, to think about our spiritual life: how we relate to God and how that is seen and experienced by others. It is something we can choose to do in Advent, so that we are ready for the celebration of the birth of Christ, our God, into human flesh; a kind of spiritual clear-out.
Mary and Joseph didn't get the choice. Mary's "Yes" to Gabriel, agreeing to carry God's son in her womb, launched her and Joseph upon a life of journeys. First to Bethlehem, then to Egypt as refugees, then to Nazareth and afterwards, following Jesus.
For them and for us, our relationship with God can be refreshed and renewed by journeying. Perspectives change, and faces, which allows us to choose to make changes to whom and what we are. We can throw out old baggage and travel lighter.
Jesus doesn't save humanity by staying in one place and accumulating lots of things. Jesus' life is one of letting go of home, safety, old acquaintances and old opinions. Eventually, Jesus empties himself completely on the cross. He has no baggage left, only the cross he carries and that bears him.
As we approach Christmas and remember the child Jesus, we will have Crib scenes in church. St Francis began the tradition of having a ' live ' crib scene, with donkeys and cattle, in the 13th century. Francis was a great proponent of living with simplicity. Francis gave away all his possessions and only used things that were borrowed from other people or given. He wanted to reproduce the absolute poverty of Jesus and identify with the poor and the sick in society, whom Jesus especially loved.
Advent is about letting go of old baggage so that we have more room for the Christ-child in our hearts. As we make more room for Christ, those around us will see his light shining more brightly in our deeds and dealings with others. We are generous in giving to our family and friends, we need to be equally generous in giving to the many good causes that we collect for at Church or give to privately. Jesus shows us that it is only by emptying ourselves of all the things that tie us to the earth, that we can finally ascend with Him to heaven.