A Message from Rev Benji Callen – December 8 2019

Advent is the season of waiting and preparing. You, like me, may have been confused about what we’re waiting for. Often we think its about preparing Christmas, the time when God chose to become like us… Emmanuel (which means God with us). The Christmas carols we sing, the trees, the advent calendars, the parades, the Christmas parties, the decorations in shops and offices all seem to reinforce the same message: Jesus is coming/has come to us as a baby at Christmas, let’s celebrate. If you do some research into the church calendar and what’s called the Revised Common Lectionary (set Sunday bible readings for each year on a 3-year rotation used by many mainline denominations worldwide since its revision in 1994); you discover that advent is waiting and preparing not for Father Christmas or Christ coming as a baby. That happened over 2000 years ago. Rather, it is Christ’s coming again in glory. The ’second coming’. Some writers and commentators who enjoy a strict adherence to the church’s liturgical year get quite upset about what they see as “the Christmas creep” of advent. Christmas carols and decorations are for Christmas and the period after, not before. As a result, Christmas for them should come in sudden flurry! At BCUC were mixing it together a bit. We can see both Christmas coming and elements of preparing for the time Jesus comes again. Up the front of the church we add each Sunday a golden trumpet. As Jesus described his return: “he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Matthew 24:31.The flags have a letter of the four traditional advent themes: Love, Joy, Hope, Peace. Their colour is purple: the usual colour of advent that represents both royalty (the sovereignty of God) and penitent preparation. The black background represents the pre-dawn. As Christians we live in the time between Jesus death and resurrection and his return, the darkness is nearly over. As we progress through the weeks we will see more light and life (including in the flowers). The bible in front of the cross symbolises the primary revelation of Jesus (come along at Christmas and you will see the word made flesh). It’s not the bright tinsel and trees that you get at Burnside Village, its about showing Jesus return. We hope these visuals will enhance the message and your worship experience as we ask ourselves: are we prepared for Jesus to return?

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