It was in the run-up to Christmas some years ago that a British supermarket became
the first in the country to open its doors for twenty-four hour shopping. At last
it was possible to shop at two, three or four in the morning – and shop people did.
The first night's opening was a huge success in retail terms but a dismal failure
in terms of seasonal goodwill. In the scramble, many of the “luxury” items such as
prawns, smoked salmon and brandy butter sold out. The consumer frenzy gathered pace,
and by midnight people were pinching things from each other's trolleys. By the early
hours of the morning, the store was forced to close for a while to restore order.
In the frenzied struggle for cranberry sauce and brandy butter, the late night shoppers
were caught up in the whirl of preparation which characterises Advent for so many
of us. Indeed, the chances are that you are thinking about how you will prepare for
the season, or your preparations may already be under way. Perhaps you have drawn
up a Christmas card list, or you may even have bought the cards when they were reduced
in price after Christmas last year. You may be in the process of writing and posting
them, or be compiling a “round robin” letter with family news. For many of us, the
“to do” list in the run up to Christmas seems never ending.
Taken together, the two readings for today remind us that Advent is a time of penitence
and preparation, and give us an insight into the second coming of Christ. The passage
from St. Matthew's Gospel is the most alarming. Jesus' stark warning is made all
the more urgent because of his vivid description of people going about their ordinary,
day to day lives - eating, drinking, marrying, working in the field – oblivious to
the events that are about to befall them.
The text from the prophet Isaiah mentions the judgement of God, but also brings us
a beautiful vision of peace, with an end to war and the people walking in the light
of the Lord.
If we allow ourselves to only half-hear it, we can react to the message of today's
Gospel a bit like naughty children smoking behind the sheds at school. However, rather
than being sneaky and hoping to get away with it and not be caught out by a teacher
swooping in on a spot check, why not decide this Advent to face the words of Jesus
with prayerful resolve and take the opportunity to deepen our faith, exploring what
preparation and penitence really mean in our lives? That might possibly take a bit
of soul-searching. It will certainly mean a lot of praying and could involve making
a few changes.
In Christian terms, penitence is the first step towards real preparation. It involves
a real commitment to the future and a resolve to amend our ways and live differently.
So how can we commit ourselves to making some changes among the Christmas cards,
the tree, the stockings, turkey and tinsel, and prepare ourselves spiritually? The
very best way to start is to revitalise our prayer life. That might mean finding
a bit of time each day, or adding a few minutes to our existing prayer time. We will
also do well to remain alert knowing that Jesus can come to us at any time and we
shall be ready and waiting to take up the challenges he sets out before us. Without
doubt, this will prove the most important encounter in our lives, so don't miss out,
Lord Jesus Christ,
teach us to anticipate your return
by preparing the way for your coming;
to catch a glimpse of your kingdom
through living by its values today.
Live in us now,
so that the day may come
when we live with you and all your people
for all eternity,
your will complete and your promise fulfilled.
This prayer we ask in your name.
Canon Dave 26th November 2022
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
I went on a short train journey from Matlock to Derby earlier in the week to have
my shoes repaired by an amazing cobbler in Derby's Eagle Market. I have used him
for years as he always makes a superb job. Unlike my short journey, Charlie my grandson,
on his day off last week travelled from Derby To London St. Pancras, London Kings
Cross to Edinburgh and back to Derby all in one day – a total of 812 miles (he's
dafter than me). I told him that we are going to trump that next year by travelling
from Chesterfield to Casablanca. However, he did point out that we will have some
water to cross and of course we couldn't do it in a day!
Chatty Crafts in St. Peter’s, Edensor
Last Thursday in every month 10-30am - 12noon
All welcome, any craft and any ability or if you are not feeling crafty then come
along anyway and have a chat!