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Vicar's Musings for the First Sunday in Advent

30 November, 2014

Today we begin our Advent journey. How will we prepare for the great feast of the Incarnation? There is the Christmas tree to erect and decorate in due course, the Christmas cake is another essential (thank you Terry Porter and Caroline Rutherford) and then there are the cards to send, the presents to purchase, the Christmas parties to arrange, and the list seems to grow as the day draws closer. But is this really what Advent is all about? In the frantic rush of this time of year, it is crucial that we carve out some time for what is the most important of all: our spiritual preparations for Christmas.

Each Wednesday during Advent, from 2.30 to 4pm, you are invited to the Vicarage to pray and reflect with others on Bp Stephen Cottrell's book Walking Backwards to Christmas (2014). Each Friday from 5pm in the Handfield Chapel, or by appointment at other times, there will be a priest present to hear your confession. And on Wednesday 17th December, from 7.30 to 9.30pm, you are invited to join Bp Graeme and Caroline Rutherford at their home "Thinking about the relevance of the Advent Message for today" (Unit 3/68 Campbell Road, Hawthorn East; please RSVP to the Parish Office, ph. 9662 2391). Or if none of these are possible for you, how about choosing a theological or devotional book to read for Advent, or making a fresh commitment to your prayer-life?

I am reading Robert Ellsberg's Dorothy Day: Selected Writings (1983) for Advent. She writes a beautiful piece "A Baby is Born" reflecting on the birth of a child to a homeless mother the week before Christmas: "And this tiny creature, who little realises his dignity as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, lies upstairs from me now as I write, swaddled in a blanket and reposing in a laundry basket. He is rosy and calm and satisfied, a look of infinite peace and complacency upon his tiny countenance .... Christ Himself came so truly to us this Christmas Day in this baby boy, just as in the persons of the hungry [homeless]. 'For inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"

These words are especially poignant for the Vicarage family this year, as our older daughter Amy gave birth to a 9lb 3oz boy early on Monday morning: Reuben. The mystery of the Incarnation is manifest in the gift of a child, the everyday and yet miraculous gift of new life. May your Advent this year be a most blessed and holy one.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster


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