St Bride's: News - 'How far is it to Bethlehem?' Advent and Christmas at St Bride's

St Bride's: News

'How far is it to Bethlehem?' Advent and Christmas at St Bride's

Adorazione_dei_Magi_by_Gentile_da_Fabriano_-_Predella 1024.jpgAdorazione dei Magi, Gentile da Fabriano, 1423, tempera on panel, Florence, Italy

Christmas at St Bride's is not only the busiest time of the year for us, but also one of the most significant seasons of the Christian calendar. During our many services we have in store, as always, a feast of exquisite and uplifting choral music; the opportunity to sing our favourite Christmas carols; and the chance to discover anew the power of that most famous story: the tale of a child born in a stable, two thousand years ago, marking the dawn of new light and new hope in our troubled world.

Full Listing of Sunday and Carol Services

The Christmas story has journeys at its very heart: there is the road to Bethlehem travelled by Mary and Joseph; the path down from the hillside taken by the shepherds, summoned by the angel to see the Christ child; the journey of the Wise Men from foreign lands; the flight to Egypt by the holy family, described in St Matthew's Gospel.

So I wonder what kind of journey the road to Christmas might be for each one of us this year? As with all the most significant journeys, the answer to that question will lie more in the quality of our travelling than in the distance covered. Paradoxically, sometimes it is by aiming deep that one travels furthest. And that is why, traditionally, the season of Advent has been a time when we are invited to reflect upon some particularly challenging themes, sometimes called the 'Four Last Things': heaven, hell, death, and judgment - themes that we shall be exploring on each of the four Sundays in Advent.

These topics might sound somewhat gloomy and forbidding - but in fact, by exploring some of the darkest realities of human experience, we can also recognise anew the power of the light of Christ to banish that darkness - which is why Christmas brings with it such joy and hope. If you want to learn the true value of light, try spending some time without it!

The poet Kate Compston has written a poem entitled, appropriately enough, 'How far is it to Bethlehem?' The poem is worth reading in full, but for now I will quote just its opening and closing words:

As to the distance: it depends
on where you are when you set out,
... I say: the journey will not be long,
But you will have ventured all, and travelled far.

Bon Voyage!

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