Pause to prepare (First published in the Euro Weekly News on 30th November 2018)
“Parting”, according to Juliet in Shakespeare’s play, “is such sweet sorrow”, and one which many of us living here in Spain often experience as we wave goodbye to families and close friends at one airport or another. The greater the love and the longer the parting of course, the greater the sorrow we feel and the more desperately we await the reunion. I still remember clearly the anguish I suffered nearly 60 years ago now when having just got engaged, my fiancée jetted off on a skiing holiday with one of her nursing friends. It was by far the longest two weeks of my life as I eagerly awaited her return.
The followers of Jesus must have had very similar feelings as he left them promising that he would return in due time, and they certainly lived the rest of their lives in confident anticipation that they would be meeting up again. But time’s gone by and still his followers wait; though for many, the confidence that he will one day fulfil his promise is wearing a little thin.
And so as we enter that period in the Christian calendar known as Advent, which this year starts on December 2nd, it’s good to recall that this is a time when Christians are encouraged to remember not only that Jesus came into the world in Palestine some 2000 years ago but also that He promised one day to return in all His glory. And not only should we remember this promise, but also to ensure that we are ready, no matter how or when this may happen. For there’s an awful risk that just as the World wasn’t ready for him and rejected him when he came to be born in Bethlehem, so now we too have little thought of his pending return and are in great danger of ourselves rejecting him as and when he does. So as this Advent we prepare in so many ways for the fast approach of Christmas, making sure that our homes are suitably provisioned and decorated, let us also give some thought to the far more vital preparation of ourselves.