Rector's Reflections - 19 December

Tuesday 19th December 2023

A Favourite Advent Hymn

In the previous  Reflection in the current series, from Wednesday 13th December, I looked at the fourth verse of the traditional Advent hymn, “Creator of the stars of night”. Today, I wish to share some reflections on the fifth verse , which reads as follows :

“To thee, O holy One, we pray,

Our judge in that tremendous day,

Preserve us, while we dwell below,

From every onslaught of the foe”.

This verse introduces the idea that Jesus is n’t only our Judge, passing judgment at some future date  on how we have tried to live our lives. Jesus can also be our helper  in the here and now, as we tackle the challenges of life.

We all experience times of challenge – times of  ill-health, of financial uncertainty, of disappointment and anxiety.  Some of these times of challenge can undermine our sense of spiritual well-being and our confidence in God, and the author of the hymn describes such experiences as “onslaught[s] of the foe”.   This language of spiritual warfare is found in some of the books of the New Testament, and some Christians have continued to find the language helpful in describing some of the challenges Christians face in their day to day lives.  Whether or not the language of spiritual warfare comes naturally to us, there are times for most of us when trying to live a truly Christian life is a real struggle.

The hymn provides us with real encouragement when we are facing such times of trial.  We have some one on our side, to look after us and help us as we face the challenges of life : we have Jesus, who is ever willing to help us in the here and now. Jesus is too loving a person to be content to left standing there on the heavenly side lines, looking down at our plight from the serene mansions of heaven. Jesus wants to come down to help us – but he awaits our request. We need to ask for his help – which is one reason why our prayers are so important.

I wonder what we might be struggling with today? How might we pray to Jesus for help to meet the struggles of the day? What sort of help might we need?

- Father Jason

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