Thought for the Month

Thought For the Month December 2021

I don’t know about you, but I get very sad when seasons and festivals get blurred in the time line. Hot Cross buns all year round, Christmas puddings in August… We so easily lose that sense of anticipation of things to come, seasonal foods and Christmas are just two of the casualties of this trend.

We are now in the season of Advent, a time when we celebrate and anticipate the arrival of Jesus, the dawn of a new era. This Sunday is the second Sunday in Advent and traditionally (depending on the denomination or liturgy you follow) it’s a time we remember John the Baptist. In his gospel, Matthew describes John like this:

Matthew 3 : 3 (NRSV)                                         

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight.’”

Notice the subtle difference between Matthew’s text and the text from Isaiah

Isaiah 40:3 (NRSV)

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Isaiah talks about a voice crying out – “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,… But Matthew describes John as the voice in the wildness ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”. John describes himself similarly in John 1:24.

So what you might say. Well this point in time – when John the Baptist was preaching – is the end of what would become known as the ‘Intertestamental period’, the time between the writings of the Old and New Testaments. For four hundred years there had been no prophetic voice in Israel, the Jews could be described as being in a spiritual wilderness, and John was the one crying out, not just in a geographic wilderness, but also a spiritual wilderness. He was telling the people to prepare for something greater than had ever been seen before.

I’d like now to refer back to theme for the first Sunday in Advent, this is when Christians look forward and anticipate the second coming of Jesus, a subject which I know is difficult for some. However the bible is quite clear on the subject and it’s worth considering that for individuals throughout history, and today, Jesus has already come for them.

Depending on the liturgical year, the two set readings are from Matthew (Matt 21: 1-13 and Matt 24: 15-28). In chapter 21 we read of ‘Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem’. He arrives at the Temple expecting to see a house of prayer and dedication, a fruitful place full of compassion and love – perhaps hoping rather than expecting as I’m sure he knew what he was really going to find – instead His house has been turned into a ‘…den of robbers.. (v13). A little later in the chapter we have the story of the fig tree where Jesus goes up to a tree and finding no figs, only leaves, he curses it. This was a metaphor for what would happen to Jerusalem and the Jewish people following Jesus’ experience at the Temple. In Chapter 24 we read of Jesus prophesy of the Temple destruction and the desolating sacrilege that would take place – all of which happened within a generation (around 66-73 AD).

So what does all this say to us in Advent 2021? Well if we consider last Sunday as a looking forward to the second coming of Christ (in whatever manner at whatever time) then I think it poses a very serious question for us all, especially as the world in many ways can seem to be in a spiritual wilderness. Will we be like the Temple Jesus came to, void of prayer, worship compassion, love… or like the fig tree that bore no fruit? Or will we be fruitful for Him, spreading the good news of love, compassion, kindness and good will to all.

Coming back to my opening comments, yes I love everything in its season, I love Advent and the anticipation of Christmas… But! Maybe somethings should not be seasonal, yes let’s keep our seasonal traditions, however, perhaps the world could do with us all being fruitful in the true Christmas spirit all year round. 


Maybe this year we can light our own Advent Candles.

But thank you ‘Scarecrows of the Green’ for 2020!

The Challenge of Advent

Lord of all,
You tell us to wait and pray for that time
When Christ shall come again to establish his kingdom;
That time when your purpose shall be fulfilled
And your name made known and worshipped on all the earth!
You challenge us to live in the light of that promise –

Help us to respond.

Teach us, we pray, never to lose sight of your purpose,
Never to stop believing that you are at work,
Never to lose confidence in you kingdom.
Teach us that, as Christ came, so he shall come again.
You challenge us to live in the light of that promise –

Help us to respond.

But teach us also not to waste the present moment,
Not place all our hope in the future,
Or to imagine that you are unconcerned
For us and your world now!
Teach us to recognize that Christ is with us always,
By our side to the end of time.
You challenge us to live in the light of that promise –

Help us to respond.

Help us to live and work for you always,
Rightly and responsibly enjoying your many gifts,
And seeking to do your will and follow your ways.
Help us to live each day
As though Christ were coming back at that moment,
Until that day when he returns in glory
And you are all in all.
You challenge us to live in the light of that promise –

Help us to respond.

For his name’s sake.


(Nick Fawcett: ‘Prayer for all seasons’ Book 2)