Attached is Newry Parish Bulletin for Sunday 29th November.
'Be prepared’. Figures largely in the celebration this weekend. Not just preparation for Christ’s coming as the child of Bethlehem, but more his second coming at the end of time – the judge of all. Advent contains both a promise and a warning. The first coming of Jesus as a baby was sudden and it inaugurated the new age. He also comes every day, for every day is a Day of the Lord in which we must keep awake. Do we sufficiently recognise him in our human encounters? Jesus taught that he was mysteriously present in the poor, the sick and the hungry, just as he is mysteriously present in the Elements of the Eucharist.
The Russian writer Turgenev tells how once a man came up from behind him in church and stood beside him. He had a n overpowering sensation that the man was Christ; yet, when he turned round, it was just a face like any other. ‘What sort of Christ is this?’ he says, only gradually realising that Christ’s face is the face of any of his people.
Our preparation for the coming of Christ is watchful so that we can welcome him. In Advent we look forward towards Christmas, but we can keep awake, towards the time when Christ came to a largely unprepared world. Even his own people were not ready to receive him. Our Advent preparation is not just for Christmas, but we can keep awake, ready at the end of time to welcome the Lord on his return. Meanwhile, as Christians we go calmly on, living as if each day were to be our last.
Canon Francis Brown