By the time this article appears the season of Advent will be nearly upon us. This season is the shortest that it can be this year with the fourth Sunday of Advent being on Christmas Eve. In the past the Advent Season has even been longer, up to six weeks. Perhaps this would give us more opportunity to consider the message of the season. It is a focus which can be sadly neglected as the preparation for Christmas seems to take over with Carol Services, Christingles and so on, and our ringing commitments will increase as December progresses. When I was a parish priest our local Churches Together always had an Advent Service on the first Sunday of Advent and since retirement I have enjoyed the Truro Cathedral Service which is by candlelight.
The message of the season could be the Scouts’ motto ‘Be Prepared’. The ringing of our bells in Advent will be telling us to prepare for Christmas, to be ready to celebrate our Lord’s first coming and the wonder of the Incarnation, God with us, Emmanuel, but also to be ready for his second coming. The sound of our bells hopefully reminds us to be prepared for when God through Christ will establish his Kingdom.
As I write the terrible war is being waged in Gaza and we pray for those suffering on both sides of this conflict. Other conflicts continue which no longer make the headlines. The message of peace seems to be ignored, yet there are still organisations, such as Rabbis for Human Rights and Women Wage Peace which continue to work tirelessly to obtain peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Sunday 26th November was the Feast of Christ the King. May our bells ring out over our communities to proclaim that the Kingdom of God, which Our Lord came to bring, is a kingdom of justice, love and peace and that this Kingdom will come on earth as in heaven.
Canon Malcolm Bowers