Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: December/January Magazine.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I used to look forward to my dad coming home from work when I was a boy. When I was very young I would sit at the front window watching for his car. When I moved into my teenage years my dad took a job in London and I would only see him at weekends; that was a long wait! In December we enter the season of Advent which is a period of waiting and of getting ready. At Advent we look back to the first Christmas when God came to earth as a baby in search of His people who had wandered away from Him. He came like a shepherd searching for His lost sheep. He came as a human to share in the human experience and especially suffering which is part of that experience. He came to earth that we might go to heaven. All of this we look back on and remember at the celebration of His birth at the Feast of the Nativity on 25th December. However, there is much more to Advent, for we also look forward to when Jesus will come again. Like me waiting at the window watching for my Dad, so at Advent we’re encouraged by the Church to look up from our day-to-day lives and look out for Our Lord who has promised to return. Not this time as a small baby, no this time He will return to finally and fully bring in His Kingdom.
You know there were a few occasions when I didn’t look forward to my dad coming home… that is when I had been naughty. If I had been messing my mum about she would say ‘Wait ’til your dad gets home’. Sometimes I would have to stand in the kitchen and wait for him to walk through the door. When I was in trouble, when I had done something wrong, I then dreaded my dad coming home. Maybe you feel a bit like that when you think of Jesus returning; maybe you think of judgement when you think of the end of the world. In fact this is a healthy place to be in, and one reason why the Church has a season of Advent. If we look at our lives now before Jesus returns and, like me, see areas which fall short well that means there is still time to make amends, to say sorry, to seek forgiveness. When I was a kid we didn’t have mobile phones, but if I had I would have rung my dad when I was in trouble, told him what I’d done and said sorry. That way I cold stop worrying and start to look forward to his return instead. That is the opportunity which Advent affords; the opportunity to put things right so that Jesus’ return holds only joy for us.
This Advent, along with the rest of the diocese, we’ll have the chance to read through the book of Revelation with the Advent Devotional, entitled ‘Revealing Jesus’. The Book of Revelation is the most misunderstood book in the whole Bible. It uses vivid pictures to convey spiritual truths and has been used by some to come up with some very weird conspiracy theories. In fact the book, written by the Apostle John, is written to help those who are waiting for Jesus to return. To encourage those who are having a difficult time and to challenge others who haven’t yet got their lives in order and, if they’re not careful, may miss out when Jesus comes back. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the devotional from the back of church, or to download it for free from our website, and read through Revelation with the help of members of Blackburn Diocese (myself included). My prayer is that such reading will help us all to be a bit more ready for Jesus’ second Advent and so much more ready to celebrate at Christmas.
Jesus is coming back. That’s wonderful news, even better than Christmas. Let’s make sure we’re ready, as ready as we can possibly be.