A view from St Kilda – December 2019

The pieces are spread across the Manse hall floor.
“What are you doing?“ says Pamela coming down the stairs.
“I’m counting the parts” I answered. Sure enough, I was counting the number of screws, wooden dowels, the nuts, the pins, the washers and putting them in little piles then checking them with the contents list.
Once that was done, I sat down in our front room for a rest.
The bold builder, that’s me, singing loudly ‘George the Builder, can I fix it? Yes, I can’ re-entered the building site to discover that Pamela was half way through the process.
“You haven’t read the instructions!” I said, putting my toolbox away and taking the pencil from behind my ear.
Whether someone is talking about assembling furniture, using a gadget or taking medicine, many people simply ignore the instruction sheet. How many of us have not taken our tablets at the right time, taken them with a full or empty stomach, or missed them completely – or even worse according to the medics, not completed the course?
It is Advent Sunday and the season of Advent does not get a good press. Clergy like me, change our stoles to purple as a sign of penitence and the liturgical readings on the weeks be-fore talk about end times, just to cheer us up. There might be something in society’s mad rush to start talking about Christ-mas in late September-early October: at least there is prepara-tion for the day!
Advent is much more than a period of penitence and prepara-tion or sackcloth and fasting. Advent is actually a joyful time, a time of anticipation and hope. On the one hand, Jesus has al-ready entered our world as a historical figure and his incarna-tion is a fact of history, but Advent is not a period commemo-rating the past but honouring what is now and what is to come.
As Christina Rossetti wrote :
“Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out
with lighted lamps and garlands round about
to meet Him in a rapture with a shout.”
As the word suggests, ‘Advent’ is an adventure.
Not only is it the start of a new cycle in the church calendar but where it all begins again – the waiting, the hop-ing, the excitement, the jubilation of the celebration of the birth of Christ and the coming of Jesus again in a triumphant new way.
When Advent calendars were Advent calendars, they got the idea right – the slow opening of a door day by day, to the joy of the last door on Christmas Eve.
We often make the mistake of not reading the instructions and bash-ing on ahead until a mistake is made and asking where have we gone wrong.
The answer might simply be to follow the instructions.
Read the manual.
Know the parts you need.
Count them, if you are as paranoid as I!
Enjoy Advent!
It is an exciting taste of what is to come. Take your time and look to the future and the adventure of Christ in your lives.
And may this new beginning at Advent and the Christmas Season be truly a new be-ginning for you because you have kept your lamps lit.
Your friend and minister,
George, and all at the Manse