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In our gospel reading for the third Sunday in Advent we see St John the Baptist asking Jesus, ‘Who are you?’
Its a question that almost anyone who has thought about matters of life and death is likely to ask. Is this really the Son of God, who through His life, death and resurrection offers us the means of eternal life?
We learn that Jesus’ response to John’s enquiry is to draw his attention to the miracles that He is performing: the deaf hear, the blind can see and the lame now walk.
Stunning though these miracles are they are also metaphors that point beyond themselves to the greater task of healing humanity from the effects of sin which Jesus will accomplish. In doing so he empties death of its power and turns it too into a metaphor which points beyond itself to the transition into perfect eternal new life in Christ, which Jesus makes possible for those who follow Him.
This week the Church begins a new Christian Year. The wreckage of the streamers and party from the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King, have been put away. Instead the Church looks sober dressed in purple and the season of Advent has begun. The word Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, meaning ‘coming’, itself a translation from the Greek ‘parouisa’.
Advent is a time in which we prepare for two mysteries. The first is obvious, very simply the coming of Christ at Christmas. There is nothing more special that the concept that God chooses, of his own free will, to become a human being as we are. Advent allows us through prayer, attendance at Mass, and acts of kindness and mercy, to get ready for this feast.
The second mystery we ponder is the life to come. Here we think about our own deaths, and inevitable judgement in the life to come. We are encouraged to think about how we have used our lives so far, and what more we can do to spread God’s kingdom on earth. In the words of this Sunday’s Gospel, “stay awake, praying at all times, for the strength to survive all that is to happen”.
Fr Matthew has been serving at St John’s since July 2015. He was made Deacon in 2015 and is now to be ordained Priest. There ordination will take place on Sunday the 2nd October at 3.30pm. The ordaining Bishop will be the Rt. Revd. Norman Banks, the Bishop of Richborough, and the Bishop of Rochester will also be present. There will be clergy present from many points in Fr Matthew’s journey towards this important moment, including the preacher, Fr Robert Farmer SSC, who is the Vicar of St Mary’s Wellingborough, and Fr Matthew’s former Parish Priest. All are very welcome to come and support Fr Matthew on this important occasion. There will be drinks and refreshments after the service. Fr Matthew will celebrate his first Mass the next day, Monday 3rd October at 8pm, and you are very welcome to attend this also.
You can read more about Fr Matthew here, and his forth coming ordination, on the Bishop of Richborough’s website.
Friday 2nd September was Fly the Flag day for the Merchant Navy. This year Fr Robin is acting as chaplain the the Chairmen of the District Council, Councillor Simon Raikes. At 10am the ensign was raised by the Westerham Sea Cadets, and prayers said for all those who serve in the Merchant Navy, and all who have lost their lives serving in it, not least in conflict. This is a day which has been recently introduced, but allows communities to remember the service and sacrifice that these men and women have made.
Please find details below. We will keep the festival on Sunday 26th June with a Solemn Mass at 4pm rather than the normal 10am. There will be no 10am Mass that day. The preacher will be Canon Michael Shields SSC, some tim Vicar of St John’s, and the augmented choir will sing Mozart’s Mass K258.
St John the Baptist, Sevenoaks
The Clergy House,
62 Quakers Hall Lane,
01732 451 710