Next Sunday, the Advent journey begins.
If you’re well prepared and read ahead, there are some things in Jesus the Child We Worship to ponder when you come to Church on Advent Sunday. There’s also a reflection for St Andrew’s Day, which happens to fall on Sunday as well (although our lectionary gives you the option to transfer St Andrew to Monday December 1). You may like to read the first few pages this week, so that you won’t be swamped come Sunday.
Or, you may just like to take the readings as they come. The book will work that way too.
I have only a few print copies left. Click on BUYING THE BOOK (https://adventbook.wordpress.com/buying-the-book/) to access the internet order form.
Likewise, St John’s Books (http://www.stjohnsbooks.com.au/ or phone 08 9335 1982) have nearly exhausted their supply too.
Click on http://www.stjohnsbooks.com.au/product_info.php?products_id=6173 to go direct to the book.
Call into the shop in Highgate Court, Queen Street, Fremantle, to collect them in person.
Otherwise buy the E-BOOK in the version that suits your device. Click on https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/453685. The e-book costs $US 3.99, and I’ve tried it both on the Kindle and the i-Pad. It works well for daily reading and looks good in both formats. Email me (email@example.com) for an email version if you really don’t want to use the Smashwords site.
Kindle screen shot
Families 150 years ago experienced often the pain of a baby or toddler dying. I have been reading about the beginnings of our worshipping community of St Mary’s Busselton as the Molloys, the Bussells and the Chapmans began their pioneer life first in Augusta then at the Vasse.
Georgiana Molloy apparently gave birth in a tent in Augusta, possibly assisted only by a Noongar woman. This baby drowned two years later. In the Australian landscape, and under those conditions, deaths in childbirth, deaths from snake-bite, drowning, accident and disease in the first years of life were bound to be common.
Families adjusted by having many children. Demographers point out that as societies become more affluent, they have smaller families. With safer life-styles, you need fewer spares.
Captain John Molloy’s gravestone St Mary’s Church, Busselton
That doesn’t lessen the burden of pain. Parents bonded emotionally with their infant child only to have that bond violently broken by an early death. You can read the pain on the gravestones scattered around our old cemeteries. For Georgiana Molloy the pain of losing children may well have contributed to her own early death.
It also meant, however, that these infant deaths taught families of that era to be more aware of the everyday reality of death, and more conscious of three things in particular which are often absent from our thinking:
- Sorting out what happens after death. It is true that the Victorians could be sentimental about the afterlife (“There is a happy land far, far away”), but they could also glory in the benefits of the resurrection. Because Jesus has risen from the dead, our destiny, though the details may not be clearly seen, is to be anticipated with joy.
- The act of dying. We may die in our sleep, or in an accident, in the twinkling of an eye. But it may be that we will be conscious in our dying, and we will want to be ready to set out on that adventure in a manner that matches our faith. We can plan ahead. For me, or you, as an individual, what will constitute a good death?
- If, after death, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart imagined, … God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor. 2:9 ESV), and if, we are to approach the act of dying with faith, then how much more should our lives now reflect the goodness of God? We should live each day with gratitude for the gift of eternal life.
Getting ready for Christmas in Australia for a child often starts when school closes for the year. It’s hot. Sometimes the day temperatures in south-west Western Australia rise to the mid-thirties Celsius in December, and the dry easterlies start to blow.
For a farm kid in the fifties, those weeks before Christmas were a time of great freedom. We were discouraged from staying indoors, and the wide open spaces of the farm were literally that. We could run, or ride our bikes, as far as we liked, and simply enjoy the gift of creation.
But there was also the excitement of preparing for guests. Some like my mother’s parents, would come only for Christmas Day, after church services. Others, like Dad’s sisters, Auntie Kate and Auntie Pix would come and stay for some days.
We expected presents. More about them later.
This year, I am beginning my preparations early: my book of daily meditations for Advent is at the printers now. I hope it will be launched in Perth in October, but the books need to be ready in good time. I feel excited about this book. It has been a joy to write; as I reflected last Advent on the Scriptures for next Advent, I was able to wait on God for inspiration. My prayer is that what I have prepared will encourage readers as you prepare for Christmas 2014