Sue Cooper, a CAFOD supporter from Corpus Christi parish in Wokingham, reflects on what Advent means to her as a time of hope and light amongst the winter gloom and darkness.
How I dislike this time of year. The dark nights and the cold, wet weather force me inside, and living in an area of the South where it rarely snows, there’s not even that brightness to lighten my mood. The news, too, speaks of horror in Syria and tumult in Iraq as well as an uncertain future for us here. It is miserable, but amidst the gloom there is hope.
The Sunday Mass readings throughout Advent warn us to ready ourselves and our anticipation of future events is filled with light and expectation. We have not been abandoned in the darkness, there is one who is coming to us who brings peace and cares for those on the margins. And in preparation to welcome the one who comes, we must respond to the call of John the Baptist and “repent” and change our ways. As the weeks unfold the anticipation and the excitement grow: the Word is made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!
As we prepare for Christmas, Advent is a time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. As a family, we post up pictures on our website with short captions to share with our extended family and friends what we’ve been up to. It’s a time to consider those who have died during the year, our achievements and perhaps ponder the “might have beens”.
Advent for me is also a time for spiritual reflection, sitting in front of my Advent candle, to take stock of my relationship with Jesus. Do I really believe in a God who is with me? What differences do I need to make for this to shine through?
With the promise of Advent, it is not a time to reproach myself, but rather to look forward to what can be achieved with God’s love born anew. In the darkness of this time, what can I do to enkindle lights of hope for me and for my neighbour both near and far? How can I too be a herald of peace and justice? And there is much that can be done.
At our local food bank, the local churches together do what we can to assist those who have fallen on hard times, offering a helping hand to those struggling with homelessness, debt, and sickness. Our Traidcraft stall encourages those further afield to build a better future for themselves, their families and their local communities. CAFOD’s World Gifts also give us the chance to recognise and connect with Christ incarnate in our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
Let us do what we can to shed light and hope in the darkness of our world!