28th November – Andrea’s Letter: Advent Sunday

30th November 2021

Edith’s lovely Advent picture

Dear All
I have now returned from a very good trip South. We fought our way up the M6 yesterday through heavily falling snow but thankfully arrived safely ready to begin a new week.
Most importantly we are looking forward to welcoming Bishop Kevin on Tuesday for our Patronal Festival Eucharist at 7pm.
Below is a copy of my sermon which Robin very kindly delivered on my behalf as he took the service owing to our delayed return – thank you, Robin!

Please note for the next two weeks we have a box at the back of the church to receive donations for a local food bank.

Notices for this week
Tuesday 10am Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Tuesday 30th November St Andrew’s day  – 7pm Patronal Festival Eucharist with Bishop Kevin followed by refreshments in hall
Thursday Holy Communion 10am followed by coffee in Friendship House

Readings for next Sunday – Second Sunday in Advent   Malachi 3:1-4   Philippians 1:3-11    Luke 3:1-6

Advent Devotions – I do recommend this from the Ignatius Spirituality Centre – online daily devotion for Advent – this is very good, several of us did it last year. Website – onlineprayer.net

Further news from the diocese and church can be found on the St Andrews website. Click on the link below.


Advent Sunday 2021 St Andrew’s Milngavie

Jeremiah 33:14-16,    1 Thessalonians 3:9-13,     Luke 21:25-36

The gospel passage today sounds like it may have been taken from a speech  at the beginning of the CoP 26 conference. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world…..”  Luke 21:15
Be warned of the signs of things to come – be alert and watchful!

On this the first Sunday of Advent, everywhere outside the church is getting ready for Christmas, decorations are up, gifts long bought, and cards already sent.  This year particularly there is an extra excitement in the air as many make up for the disaster of last Christmas.

But here in church there is a stark contrast, no such decorations or a smiling young Mary, or a cooing baby, or seeking shepherds, or singing angels.  Not yet.  And as for the gospel text……. today we see an adult stern Jesus picturing the whole world being shaken and turned upside down.

The season of Advent demands a very different kind of preparation.  On this first Sunday of Advent, the Gospel text sets a very different tone.  The picture of the coming persecutions and natural disasters is gloomy, but ultimately, we are told worry and fear will be replaced with great joy.  When Christians see these things happening, they will know that the Messiah’s return is coming.

Then we can look forward to his reign of justice and peace.  So, standing firm in our faith, our trust in God’s plan, we can find hope in the place of fear.

Luke’s Gospel message is very vivid and dramatic. It brings us frightening, bold, and beautiful glimpses of God – this is what Jesus offers on this first Sunday of Advent.  As troubling as the text may be for us, in it are treasures that help focus us on the true meaning and purpose of Advent.  In it, Jesus challenges us, as he did the early hearers of the Word, to look up, pay attention, and be ready.

Advent means “coming” or “arrival,” and this text from Luke reminds us that Advent involves preparing for three comings:

God coming to earth in the infant Jesus whom we await at Christmas, Christ returning to earth at a time we don’t know and Jesus coming into our hearts anew, each Advent.  Jesus wants us to be ready.  And we prepare by keeping alert, constantly preparing ourselves, our hearts, and continuing to hope in our loving God, who comes to us in Jesus Christ.

This First Sunday in Advent is not only the beginning of a new season, it is really the climax and conclusion of the Church Year.  Advent is a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, both his coming in history to Bethlehem at Christmas, and his actively coming into our hearts and our lives, and his coming in glory at the end of time.  Expectation is the major theme.

Advent Sunday reminds us that we wait for God like night watchmen wait for the morning. In the darkness we yearn for the light. But the candle we light today is tentative and vulnerable, its flame flickers at the slightest draught.

It is our experience of darkness, our sense of the absence of God, that give us our ability for standing alongside all those who are going through the valley of the shadow of misery, the shadow cast by suffering, pain, loneliness, disease, despair or death.

We put our trust in a God we’ve caught glimpses of, and no more.    We know that Jesus himself experienced the darkness of the human soul in the Garden of Gethsemane and that he too cried out loud when he sensed that God had hidden his face from him.

But the collect for Advent states quite clearly

`Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, NOW . . in the time of this mortal life’

It is NOW that we are to cast away the works of darkness. So, at Advent we look back to the birth of Christ and his ministry on earth, we look forward to our yearly celebration of his birth at Christmas,  and we look still further forward to his coming again, when he will reveal fully his glory to us and  when we shall meet him face to face.