Second Sunday of Advent
John the Baptist appears as the herald in today’s Gospel calling us to prepare a way for the Lord to make a straight highway for our God. Creating a straight highway in our spiritual lives is an impossible achievement but it is possible for us to clear a few of the weeds from the overgrown path of our spiritual lives which will be enough to allow the Lord to come, he will do the rest – but it still desires effort and a change of heart for this to happen.
The Schools Advent Services take place on Wednesday and Thursday this week at 1.30pm with a cast ranging from a tiny new-born baby right across the age range to adult actors for Herod and the mysterious Eastern Kings. The Cathedral staff, clergy and choirs are all jointly involved in these services trying to bring to life once again the Christmas story for young children from our diocesan schools – secretly we enjoy doing it more than the children! This last week there have been a couple of trips to the Everyman costume department for a few more lavish outfits, the Liverpool Theatre School have been rehearsing their dance for the appearance of the star and we have rewritten suitable words relating the Christmas story for a final song from the Lion King as the big finale number with all the children joining in the chorus. This year I’m the innkeeper of the ‘Last Resort Hotel’ Bethlehem – apparently I was typecast because I was told that I am used to saying no, but then eventually giving in!
Radio Merseyside have their Christmas Concert here on Friday evening starting at 7pm. As usual they will record the whole evening and play excerpts of it over the Christmas period. Tickets for this can be purchased from the radio station.
We have our own ‘Celebration of Christmas’ Concert on Saturday evening at 7pm presented by Roger Phillips. Last year we decided to rewrite the whole script for this and I was designated to write a series of rhymes spelling out Christmas- with the whole word eventually lit up across the sanctuary. The third letter was R and being early on I was hoping that we might get a bit of audience participation so the rhyme went ‘Poor old Rudolph, only famous for his nose. What about his antlers or his muscles or his pose? Forever back and forth pulling on his sleigh. Hands up all you children who deserve a present on Christmas Day.’ Threepeople put their hands up and none of them were children. On the fourth letter I don’t think Roger was too happy reading ‘I was an infant once, many years ago. Having to wear short trousers even in the snow. Christmas is so special when you’re young or just a youth. Nor does it lose it’s magic when your age is through the roof!’ So I have been relegated to the sidelines this year, I have to stick to words for hymns and carols.
Pope Francis has spoken and written about the wonderful sign and tradition of having a Christmas Crib in the home and in public places. ‘Dear brothers and sisters, the Christmas Crib is part of the precious and demanding process of passing on the faith. Beginning in childhood, and at every stage of our lives it teaches us to contemplate Jesus, to experience God’s love for us to feel and believe that God is with us and we are with Him thanks to the child who is the Son of God and son of the Virgin Mary.’
Canon Anthony O’Brien