Below is Archbishop Malcolm’s pastoral letter for the second Sunday of Advent:
‘My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The season of Advent is very short this year – it is only three weeks and one day long– and this means that Christmas will be upon us before we know it. Inevitably our preparations for the great feast will gain a heightened sense of urgency as the days pass. This sense of urgency was also experienced in the time of John the Baptist.
Today’s Gospel shows just how excited the people were at the news that John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness. Something great was about to happen. ‘All of Judea and all of the people of Jerusalem’ flocked to hear the preaching of John the Baptist who was announcing the coming of the Lord and calling them to repentance. The excitement amongst those who heard the Baptist must have been at a very high pitch, and that level of enthusiasm was also to be found later amongst the first Christians as we heard in today’s second reading from St Peter’s second letter. He exhorts us to always be ready for the coming of the Lord at the end of time, when his promises will be fulfilled and a new heaven and new earth will be ushered in. This will be the time when there will be a new reign of justice on the earth. Although we continue to state these truths in the Creed, have we lost the enthusiasm that should come with a belief that a new age will come to us?
Our Diocesan Advent Prayer which you received last week and which will be used at all Masses says, ‘Help us to become the Church you are calling us to be’.
Pope Francis invites everyone to be part of this adventure: To those who feel far from God and the Church, to all those who are fearful or indifferent, I would like to say this: the Lord, with great respect and love, is also calling you to be a part of his people! The Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.
The road of mercy and the path of charity are other names for the journey that we follow as Pilgrim People. Our journey as an archdiocese over the next three years is a path that we will follow together towards the archdiocesan synod in 2020; after all the word ‘synod’ means just that – being together on a common road.
Sometimes it is difficult for me to capture the enthusiasm that I referred to earlier. The church has gone through much change and this has left us longing for a new vision. The beauty of the Advent season is that it reminds us that our future and the future of the Church are in God’s hands and that he unfailingly comes to us in unexpected ways that are ever new. Who could have predicted that in our time we were to be blessed by having Francis as our pope, leading the church to deeper and more contemporary ways of living the gospel? As our eyes and hearts are opened to the coming of the Lord this Advent let us pray that we may see more clearly how we can serve him in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. May I wish you and your families a blessed Advent and a peaceful Christmas.’
Most Rev Malcolm McMahon OP Archbishop of Liverpool
This Sunday the Cathedral Choristers will sing Britten’s Ceremony of Carols following Evening Prayer and then at 5pm there is the Marie Curie Christmas Service. On Tuesday evening NSPCC have their Carols by Candlelight service – Then on Wednesday, Nugent’s Light up a Life Service at 12.30 – and on Thursday, Scarisbrick Hall Carol Service in the afternoon and the Support after Manslaughter Christmas Service in the evening. We have our own Dickensian Carol Concert and Festival Carol Service next Saturday and Sunday Evenings. A busy week ahead!