Church of England Diocese of Salisbury St. Mary the Virgin West Moors

Vicar's Letter

‘From the Vicarage’ December 2021

Autumn…and Advent is well and truly upon us! This morning as I came back from dropping Isla off to Emmanuel and Morning Prayer, I was conscious once again of that the raised beds have that ‘autumn look’ (not a fashionable and hip look I am afraid) with the remnants of this summer’s courgette plants and a bedraggled row of runner beans that I am presently keeping going to harvest nest year’s seed from. Only a few solitary leeks and my autumn sown broad beans stand proud, belying the weather. The gardener part of really doesn’t like the winter months because I want things to be growing, germinating, springing into life, and so in some senses I am impatient for the winter to pass and spring to come.

Advent in many senses can feel the same. The world seems to rush through these four weeks, tumbling headlong towards Christmas and the annual festivities. This time can seem like the brief interlude that we have to speed through before we get to the real business of Christmas. It is a bit like the tendency I have to quickly eat through my greens before I get down to the real deal of the halloumi or whatever delicacy that is on offer! Yet Advent is not just a brief interlude before Christmas, it is a season in its own right to savour and enjoy with endless complexities and vast overarching themes that warrant deep reflection as we patiently enjoy waiting for the celebration of Christ’s birth, and God’s coming into our world.

When it comes down to it, whether we are speeding through Advent conscious of the annual panic of ‘shopping days left to Christmas’ or are walking through Advent at a slower more reflective pace, it is perhaps wise to appreciate that the destination is still the same. We reach Bethlehem and actually it doesn’t matter who gets there first. It is what we see on the way that is more important. For all of us, it is all too easy to arrive at Christmas fatigued and only able to sing carols in breathless exhaustion, when this season of Advent invites the opposite, to pause, to ponder and to pray. There was a Church of England strapline for Christmas that said…’tis the season for a reason’, and that is also true of this season of Advent. So, my dear friends, let’s pause, ponder, and pray as we walk slowly in delight and anticipation towards the great joy of the incarnation.

With love and prayers

God Bless

Andy

The Revd Andy Muckle