Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 2 December 2012: Year B, First Sunday of Advent
Texts: Jeremiah 33:14-18
Hoping with hope
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Today I’m wearing my purple stole, or preaching scarf. Purple is the colour for penitence, for in Church tradition, the season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, is a penitential season. Just like the six weeks of Lent, on the run-up to Easter, Advent is supposed to be a time in which we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas by confessing our sins, by cleaning our souls, by subjecting ourselves to self-examination. This is, of course, just the opposite of what you would expect. For in our culture, the expectation is that the build-up to Christmas will be a busy time of preparation, a mad rush of shopping, preparing food, putting up decorations, getting ready for family visits, enjoying the office party and the works night out. And we clergy are as bad as everyone else, and everyone else knows it, which is why we are so often greeted with ‘This will be your busy time of year’. For most people there is not time to stop, to prepare their souls, to confess their sins. This is a time of mostly enjoyable busyness.
So the Scripture readings on this first Sunday of Advent hit a jarring note.