Lecturer's Letter - November 2006
My Dear Friends,
It’s a bit early for retrospectives of 2006. In fact, I’ve scarcely got used to it being 2006 but that’s a different matter. However, with the arrival of Advent before the next parish magazine, I though I should say something about preparation. And it’s not possible to say much about preparation without saying something about clearing out the clutter.
Jean and I know this from recent experience. We have been immensely blessed this year by being able to move house but moving house brings into very sharp focus just how much can be accumulated in a very short while. I began the year by being determined that every day I would throw out of the house more than got in, and for January and half of February I very nearly achieved it. Nevertheless, when it came to thinking about a removal date, the decisions about what was necessary/unnecessary, desirable/undesirable got ever bigger and more difficult.
‘They’ say that all change is experienced as loss. Of course, most voluntary changes are made in expectation of nett gain. And even when changes are definitely for the better, we nevertheless have to let go of some geographical, social, spiritual or material attachments in order to make room in our heads, hearts or living rooms for the new. Sometimes, feeling sad about such intentional losses takes us by surprise and can take the edge off rejoicing in the general improvements.
Advent is a time for renewing our lives in preparation for celebrating again the coming of Jesus. Making improvements in our spiritual lives by enriching our experience of Christ in prayer, worship, study, practical love and compassion (like everything else) involves some letting go. A life of discipleship cannot be pursued effectively without making time for it. A life of generosity cannot be lived without becoming more of a ‘cheerful giver’. A life of prayer cannot achieve much without an honest chunk of repentance. A life of peace with neighbours – and even more of loving our enemies – cannot happen without the letting go of grudges and some of our ‘victim’ complexes; that requires forgiveness even to the extent ‘of 70 times 7’.
To embrace Advent, to make Christmas a genuine Godly and spiritual event will mean laying down quite a lot of the clutter of 2006 and even from years before that. Making a clean start at the beginning of each Church year is a wonderful thing; to be able to do it weekly or even daily makes doing it easier and more thorough.
With every blessing for a most enriching Advent,