From the Vicar's Jottings
JUDITH’S JOTTINGS ADVENT Day Four
Behind the fourth window is the gift of PATIENCE. Patience, like FAITHFULNESS is one of the fruits of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5. But for those of us who, like me, are still very much a work in progress under the loving hand of God, patience may be a fruit that has yet to ripen in our lives. For some of us, at least, to receive patience as a gift would be a blessing, although we might be tempted to echo the prayer: ”Lord, give me patience, but hurry”.
The Apostle James tells us to “Be patient until the Lord’s coming” (James 5:7) and uses as an example of patience the ministry of God’s prophets of old, offered against a background of suffering (James 5:10) At a recent school assembly I asked the meaning of the word “Advent” and received the very wise answer: “waiting”. In these times of suffering the sense of waiting for God to reveal Himself anew is very real and patience very much called for.
“Ye servants of the Lord, each in your office wait,
Observant of His heavenly word and watchful at His gate” (Philip Doddridge)
In the New Testament the same Greek word is variously translated “endurance” “patience”, and “perseverance”. Behind today’s window is PERSEVERANCE. Perhaps the call to perseverance has been one of the greatest challenges of the pandemic. Somehow it was easier to endure when it seemed that it would pass in a few brief spring and summer months. It is harder perhaps now to persevere with the limitations which chafe in these grey days and dark nights even as they become more normal.
A nineteenth century Advent hymn which is nonetheless new to me reminds us that the strength to persevere in our walk with Jesus, whatever the circumstances which surround us, is one of the gifts He gives us day by day:
“Yea through life, through death, through sorrow and through sinning
He shall suffice me, for he hath sufficed...” (Frederick WH Myers)
Sunday by Sunday, most recently even online, we pray for each other the gift of PEACE. I have never thought that peace as the Bible tells it means necessarily the absence of fear, or disappointment, or suffering, or loss. Peace is surely what God offers us in the midst of all those things – and more. It was in the face of death, his own death that Jesus promised those closest to Him: “My peace I give you”. (John 14:27)
But this Advent season encourages us to pray for the fulfilment of the angels’ Christmas song of peace on earth:
“Bring to our world of strife thy sovereign word of peace, that war may haunt the earth no more and desolation cease” (RBY Scott)
JUDITH’S JOTTINGS Advent Day 3
Behind this window is the treasured gift of FAITHFULNESS. Later today I have the sad privilege of conducting the funeral service of a dear friend who for almost 89 years devoted herself to the faithful service of the Lord whom she loved so well. Faithfulness was the hallmark of her life. I am sure she has already heard the commendation of Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21)
Jesus’ parables about His promised return focus on His call to each one of us to be faithful in his service. The bridesmaids who were ready to meet the bridegroom are those who faithfully kept their lamps burning (Matthew 25:1-10). The servants commended by their master are those who were faithful stewards of the talents entrusted to them. (Matthew 25:14-40) Those who received God’s promise of eternal life were those who responded faithfully to the needs of others (Matthew 25:31-46).
Philip Doddridge’s Advent hymn, “Ye servants of the Lord”, concludes:
Christ shall the banquet spread with his own royal hand
And raise the faithful servant’s head amid the angelic band.
JUDITH’S JOTTINGS Advent Day 2
My Advent jottings will be shorter than usual and based on the concept of an Advent Calendar. Behind each “window” will be a gift. Each Friday in the run up to Christmas there will be three windows to “Open”. Advent is a season of waiting and hoping, of expectation and longing. Perhaps some of these gifts will meet the longings of our hearts today.
God bless you, dear friends. Judith
Behind this window is FAITH. For me one of the greatest expressions of faith in the Gospels is one I quoted fairly recently. It is the moment at which the woman who had been ill for twelve years reached out to Jesus in a crowd and touched the edge of His cloak (Luke 8:44). No fuss, no words, just a simple action borne out of trust.
In that great roll call of Faith in Hebrews 11 the writer records vast exploits of faith on the part of the great heroes of the Old Testament. But then there is a list of the achievements through faith of those whose names there is no time to mention, including those for whom faith simply meant that their “weakness was turned to strength” (Hebrews 11:34). In these strange, uncertain days, let us reach out and touch the hem of God’s garment and receive from Him the gift of faith that finds His strength in our weakness.
RBY Scott’s Advent hymn “O day of God, draw nigh”, includes these words:
Bring to our troubled minds, uncertain and afraid, the quiet of a steadfast faith...
JUDITH’S JOTTINGS Advent Day 1
My Advent jottings will be shorter than usual and based on the concept of an Advent Calendar. Behind each “window” will be a gift. Each Friday in the run up to Christmas there will be three windows to “Open”. Advent is a season of waiting and hoping, of expectation and longing. Perhaps some of these gifts will meet the longings of our hearts today. God bless you dear friends. Judith
Behind the first window is the gift of FORGIVENESS. As Advent turns our thoughts not only to Christmas, but to the promised return of Jesus, perhaps, like me, some of us become very aware of our failures and shortcomings. Perhaps we long to meet Jesus when He comes but something within us still fears how we shall be received.
King David, who was a man of frailty as well as faith, learned from very personal experience the nature of the mercy of God. Here are verses that I treasure:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11, 12)
And a verse from an Advent hymn from Charles Wesley:
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee.