To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
26th November, 2021
On Sunday 28th November, 2021we enter into the season of Advent, the beginning of the Church’s year. Advent is a time of restraint, contemplation, preparation, yes preparation – preparing ourselves for the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is twofold: we prepare as it were for His coming at Christmas, as Messiah and Saviour of the world, and also for His second coming at the end time, to judge the living and the dead. The services in church are restrained and subdued, at this time the church is not decorated with flowers, and weddings are not encouraged. The Propers for each Sunday in Advent are intended to shape our hope and prepare us for what is to come, as we await the coming of Christ. It is marked by growing joy and hope.
The gospel lesson for the first Sunday of Advent from Luke 21: 25-36 focuses on the end time and the need to be alert, awake and prepared. For no one but the Father knows when that time shall be. The gospel lesson reminds us that God is not constrained by time denoted by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years, the kind of time that prevents everything from happening all at once. In God’s time, the past and present are woven together for the sake of today. “God’s time is the now/not-yet that reshapes the world’s present expectations-and our own.” (Audrey West)
In the lesson, we are assured that even in the face of devastation-whether it is caused by natural disasters or human acts the reign of God will not be impeded. No matter how much it appears that there is little or no hope of survival or. revival, God’s way endures.
The message on this first Sunday of Advent is one of hope for all. (Luke 21:34). The heavens being shaken, the son of man coming in the clouds express at one and the same time a situation of trauma and also offers hope in the midst of those experiences.
When the present reality includes climate change, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, COVID -19 pandemic, unemployment, death, the other challenges of life and all that keep people in fear or despair, it is then that we look for the coming of the Son of man, the Christ whose promised future makes all the difference for today. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28).
Advent is also a time of waiting and how many of us like to wait? We wait for the bus, we wait for a flight, we wait to visit the doctor, we wait for the end of the week, fortnight or month to collect our wages or salaries, we are waiting and longing for the COVID-19 Pandemic to be a thing of the past, we wait, we wait, we wait. The discipline of waiting produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope (Romans 5:4-5). The same can be said of the discipline of preparation for it takes time; commitment and dedication.
During Advent, our waiting and preparation are not passive but active; actively engaged in worship, prayer, bible reading and study, self-examination and repentance, service to others, especially to those who are less fortunate than us. As we wait and long for the COVID-19 Pandemic to end, our waiting is not passive but active. Along with our prayers may we continue to adhere to the protocols: washing of hands, sanitising, physical distancing, avoiding large crowds, wearing of face mask and taking the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage each other to practice healthy lifestyles. We are all called to holiness of life and this is not something we can put on suddenly nor instantly, it requir.es the discipline of preparation and waiting. Honesty, integrity, credibility, trustworthiness respect and good behaviour are not born overnight they are engendered over a period of time and must become a way of life, if we are to exhibit them consistently. Thus, continuous preparation is important and Advent helps to reinforce this.
I invite you to remain steadfast as we journey through these trying times and may we be inspired· by the hope of Advent for it is in the midst of all the trials, cosmic activity, natural disasters, devastation that Christ comes in all His glory:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea an9 the waves.
People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.” (Luke 21: 25-27)
Jesus says, “Surely I am Coming Soon!” Amen. Come Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)
With every good wish and God’s blessings
The Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands