Down this hole frightened – Magazine December 2016

Churches have fashions. That might result in a picture of a vicar wearing the latest clerical garb flowing down the aisle to start a service. The likelihood is that few are aware of the change of emphasis from one decade to another in terms of which topics get airtime. There are core beliefs to be proclaimed to each generation, but a shift of weight from one to another over time.
The event called advent means arrival or coming. There are two arrivals that are remembered during the season called Advent (the four Sundays before Christmas). The first is the birth of Jesus Christ, his arrival on the first Christmas. The second is his future return. Both require preparation. Have we almost air-brushed out his second coming? Previous generations had a much stronger emphasis on how Jesus shall come to judge the living and the dead, as the Apostle’s Creed puts it.
There may be more emphasis on how God changes the here and now: perhaps its a result of our being wealthier or simply wanting more. It could be that we have sought a deeper experience of joy in worship, thinking that if we drop the difficult hymns and focus on the more touchy-feely words we will achieve just that. But, where there is real hardship the idea of Jesus putting wrongs right is part of the good news. Justice is a good thing. Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater? The old street preachers used
the placard “the end of the world is nigh” (the anagram solution).
Would we laugh at this in the High Street today?
We’re to prepare for the return of Jesus as our judge when he will also sweep away evil and the effects of sin. Jesus said that he will divide the sheep from the goats, giving eternal life to those who trust and obey him, but banishing those he does not know. Just as ancient Israel prepared for the coming of Jesus the Messiah, ‘Immanuel’ (God with us), so we are to long for Jesus’ return when his people will rejoice when at last our eyes shall see him.
So, let’s get ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But let’s also get ready for his return!
Do come and join our Christmas celebrations as we look with hope for his return.
Paul Kingman.

Christ Church Magazine December 2016