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Waiting in Anticipation

It is the first Sunday of Advent, which also ushers in the new church calendar year. Advent is a time for preparation, remembrance and anticipation.

Advent and Christmas is often confused. One main reason is how our wider society celebrates Christmas way before it arrives. If you have walked our shopping malls, you will hear carols being aired. This is not so much to point people to the Child, but to stir up the child in us to buy and shop. For when we feel good, we will spend more.

But Advent is not Christmas. The liturgical colour is purple and the mood is penitential. If we follow the lectionary, we will encountered Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist. Hymns like O Come O Come Emmanuel sets the mood of anticipation and hope for Messianic help, rather than Joy to the World, "the Lord is here."

Advent’s tone and focus is subdued for an important reason. Each major festival (Christmas and Easter) are prefixed with a season of preparation. The movement of the Church Year assumes that we will better understand and experience these feasts if we spend time in reflection and meditation upon why we need them in the first place.

We listen to the OT prophets and John the Baptist because they tell us of a time when the Messiah had not yet come. They take us as if back to the times of anticipation and longing. They teach us to wait, trust and anticipate. In fact, our Christian faith is lived in hopeful expectations.

And so Advent is necessarily a reflective, anticipatory season. In Singapore and MPCC, we are likely to struggle to draw the distinctions between the journey and arrival. During Advent, our pulpit will look at our traditional Gospel Canticles from the Book of Luke: Magnificat, Benedictus and Song of Simeon. All three canticles anticipate and celebrate God's plans "from of old."

We also have this week's Lessons and Carols which will reflect on these with some of the Church's rich heritage of music and of course, hearing from our ancient Scripture. Preparation is underway for our rather mysterious sounding Christmas musical, Ikigai. You will be surprised! And as you enjoy it, you will want to invite some guests to celebrate and savor the moments with you. And I also hear rumours that the Christmas lunch, complete with turkeys and hams, will be home -cooked.

In this season, we will wait, anticipate and celebrate.


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