Welcome to the website of the Benefice of Panteg and Griffithstown.
The time draws near for the birth of Christ.
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He would still be a distant stranger
And not a Baby in the manger
Advent 1955 by John Betjeman
The time draws near – how true it’s nearly Christmas! Notice I said nearly…. and yet you would think that it was already here! I listened to carols at the beginning of October surrounded by Christmas trees ad decorations, Christmas lights, Santa, all the glitz and glitter and voice singing ‘and so this is Christmas‘.
Of course this is not so, for we are coming to the end of the church year ending with a celebration that of Christ the King, leading into the season of Advent (Latin adventus) which means ‘coming’, a time of anticipation and hope. The anticipation of the prophets of old announcing the coming of a Saviour as we rad in Isaiah: ‘For a child has been born for us, a Son given to us…‘ and in the gospel of Luke, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, said of John: ‘You, my child, will be called the prophet of the most high; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way…‘
The focus of the entire Advent season is of preparation for Christmas. Advent challenges us to reclaim customs that help us celebrate God’s gift of love in Jesus, to make us ready to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child and long for the day when He will come again in the Second Coming.
As Christmas approaches, so we gradually light candles on our Advent Wreath, a reminder of the coming of Christ into the World, when we pray these words: ‘May we be obedient to your call and be ready and watchful to receive your Christ, a lamp to our feet and a light to our path; for you are our light and our salvation.’
Being ready for Christmas is something that concerns us all as the time draws near. We get caught up in the busyness of it all, buying presents, sending cards, making sure we have the turkey and Christmas pudding, going to parties, getting in the festive mood! And yet in the midst of the busyness we are reminded again and again of he present that cannot be priced. As we hear again the Christmas story God touches our hearts in a very special way – through the children of the Nativity plays we see Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men and the baby Jesus, as we meet together to light our Christmas Trees, sing our carols and pray across our communities, we come together as people who are waiting in a spirit of expectation for that special baby. We can prepare and celebrate at the same time.
Advent is a time of waiting and as the story which changed the world unfolds, in the midst of all the baubles and glitter we can find a stable, a manger and a baby. For without that baby we would have nothing to celebrate. Through the voices of the prophets long ago God’s love was proclaimed and that love was revealed in the gift of the child of Bethlehem.
There is no greater gift that we can receive and it is the greatest gift we can give to others. It does not need to be wrapped in shiny paper and tied up with a ribbon, all it needs is a heart that is open and willing to receive the babe of the manger. From the depths of our heart may we be the prophetic voices today sharing the true spirit of the season proclaiming hope, peace and love which can only come from the one who is to come, the Christ Child.
May Advent be a time of light and hope for each of us as we prepare for Christmas and pray ‘ Come. Lord Jesus.’
Every Blessing as we prepare for this Holy Season. Yours in Christ,