Saturday, November 28, 2015

The year rolls round

…and before we know it Advent is here again. I know it’s a sign of advancing age to comment on the fact, but I truly don’t know where this year has gone.  And what a year it has been.

As I write this on a dark November evening, with the wind battering the rain against the window by my desk, I am again filled with gratitude for my safe and cosy house and deeply aware that many are not so fortunate. 

I think of the thousands of refugees seeking shelter and sanctuary from the ravages of war and with foreboding of the many more who may be driven from their homes as the conflict in the Middle East intensifies. I remember with deep sadness the many lives lost or damaged in cruel attacks.

We are living through dark and difficult times and yet, as a Christian, I cannot help having hope as Advent begins. This wonderful season of anticipation, of promises made and fulfilled, of the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, reassures me that there will always be light in the darkness and that the darkness will not overcome it. This message of hope and encouragement is wonderfully summed up in one of my favourite arias from Handel’s Messiah, to me the very spirit of Advent.




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30 comments:

  1. A timely post Perpetua. We do need reminding that we must focus on the light and not be disheartened by the darkness which sadly is too often today given extra focus.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. I was writing as much to remind myself as anyone else, as it's very easy to feel overwhelmed by the huge problems and issues we can do so little about. But the light IS there and we must let it encourage us.

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  2. A timely, wonderful posting, Perpetua, and reminder of hope everlasting.
    I love the Advent Season and the anticipation we feel. It is still Saturday here, but, tomorrow we will have the Lessons in Carols, which I am looking forward to.

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    1. I'm glad you like it, Penny. As you know I'm another lover of Advent with its promises and challenges and the fact that Advent Sunday marks the church's New Year. I hope you have a wonderful time at your Advent Lessons and Carols service. Unfortunately I work up with an attack of asthma this morning and had to miss ours, so I've been listening to music instead. :)

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  3. A beautiful and uplifting post of Hope and comfort, Perpetua. I too think of the refugees walking across Europe, and with the Winter coming on. So sad. I am glad Australia will take in many thousands, and is planning to add to the number. Handel is always so majestic and powerful. A lovely post, thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Patricia, I'm glad it spoke to you. Europe is having absolutely appalling weather at the moment and for those refugees not properly housed conditions must be intolerable. I too am glad Australia is welcoming so many , but the need is still very great and I pray for an end to conflict.

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  4. Those poor desperate people....and the grudging response to their need.
    Let the people speak, not the media or government: can you imagine anyone who would not bring families to safety? Who could not put themselves in the position of people forced to flee for their lives?
    Yes, Handel's music gives voice to the hope, the expectation, the assurance of light...would that we could make our politicians hear it.

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    1. I know, Helen. One would think no-one could not sympathise with them and wish to help, but sadly that isn't the case. Some of the comments on newspaper articles about the refugee crisis beggar belief in their callous lack of concern and the rise of extreme right-wing political parties opposed to accepting refugees and other immigrants is very worrying.
      Thank goodness this isn't a universal reaction. Many people are welcoming and helping and offering the kind of hope these poor people need. As you say, Handel's music expresses it and we need those in power to hear and act on it.

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    2. On another note, it occurs to me that Handel would be in trouble on public transport these days in that pose....isn't it what they call 'manspreading'?

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    3. Chortle! I think it probably is and looking at many contemporary portraits I think it must have been a common posture back then too.

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  5. Amen, and amen. Thank you for this post. Tomorrow, our pastor will deliver his last sermon in a series on Revelations. I told my husband, "We can't miss church tomorrow. We have to hear the end of the book." Thankfully, we do know how the book ends. Evil is conquered. Love wins. Emmanuel reigns.

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    1. Amen to that too, Sally. We know the ending, but getting there is the hard part. Sometimes it's difficult to hold onto hope in the midst of such suffering and darkness, but I think the Advent season calls on us to do just that and to work to bring the same hope to those who need it most.

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  6. We can only hang on to hope - in reality the solution to these poor homeless travellers' plight is far away and they are not even welcome to spend the night in a stable.

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    1. You're right, BtoB. The solution lies in the countries from which they have fled, but finding that solution is going to be almost unimaginably difficult and the world cannot just leave them in limbo until it happens. Living in Turkey must make that heartbreakingly real to you.

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  7. I, too, particularly love to hear this hymn. I am looking forward to our Advent Carol Service this evening, always a wonderful and meaningful way to prepare for the Christmas season. And this year especially we have much to consider and pray for.

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    1. You've written about your Advent Carol Service before, Broad, and I hope that yesterday's was as beautiful and significant as ever for you. Sadly I didn't manage to get to our Advent Sunday service because I wasn't well and I really miss not having been there. Starting Advent on my own just wasn't the same, but Handel helped.

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  8. Hari om
    Hope is a divine anchor by which we can steady our boats ln the troubled waters of life. Thank you for the reminder that gratitude is one of the nourishments of hope. YAM xx

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    1. We have to be grateful, Yam. We cannot take life and what it gives us for granted. What I find so hard are the huge inequalities which disfigure our world. Advent hope helps me to go on trying to counteract them in my own very small way.

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  9. Just back from an exceedingly well-attended & joyful Advent Sunday Eucharist, followed by lunch with an English-Czech couple whose wedding I will conduct in May 2016. Thank you for reminding you blog readers of the Advent message of hope. As I shall read at Carol Services and on Christmas Eve, 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it'.

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    1. Oh, I can just imagine your Advent Sunday Eucharist, Ricky, with the wonderful St Clements hanging Advent wreath. :) I would love to have been there or at our own special service, but sadly I woke with an attack of asthma and didn't feel up to going out in the teeth of the wind and rain which are still battering us today. So I began Advent with Handel and quietness, not a bad combination to remind me of the Advent message of hope.

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  10. Advent, a most beautiful time of the year spiritually. There is Hope for a world in desperate need of peace. Thank you for this post Perpetua. Amen to all you have written.

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    1. Thank you,, Bonnie. Yes, Advent is a wonderful season, watching and waiting for the glory that is Christmas. We have to hold on to its message of hope even in the darkest days.

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  11. Thank you for your lovely blog post P. I so agree with you.

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    1. Thanks, Molly. I'm glad it expressed what you feel too.

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  12. The sheer weight of numbers of wretched refugees from all manner of horrors is the greatest we have seen is our lifetime and there is very little we, who are so safely distanced from the worst of it can do. Pray certainly and hope always hope, and where we can. give gifts of money or goods to organisations which are trying to help "at the coal face",
    Advent should be full of joy, but like you I find it difficult to put away the thought of these countless thousands.

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    1. What you say is so true, Ray. The numbers are huge and the misery overwhelming and we can do so little. I've watched with horror the images of fences being built and people being driven back, yet I can understand the difficulties of authorities struggling to cope with the demands. We have to pray and work for a solution in the Middle East.
      I think for you, as for me, Advent joy this year will be muted, but the hope is always there.

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  13. I too feel so grateful for the safe and cosy cottage where I live. I can't think of a time in my adult life when I have felt so despairing about the state of the world. Part of the despair is realizing there isn't anything I can personally do to change things, and there doesn't seem to be any kind of attempt on the part of those that do have such an ability to do anything but make things worse.

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    1. I couldn't agree more, Kristy. I share your despair at what is happening and your frustration at not being able to do anything, other than give to refugee charities, which seems so little in the face of such suffering. I just keep holding on to the hope that somehow we will learn to live together better than this.

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