Finding hope in a bigger story

Rt Rev Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes
Rt Rev Richard Jackson, Bishop of Lewes

This year I saw the first Christmas TV ad on September 15th.

It was for a well-known, solid wood furniture company if you were wondering.

An Advent beach hut in Brighton

An Advent beach hut in Brighton

Commercial preparations for Christmas now start so early, that by the time we get there, the magic seems to have disappeared somewhat.

Some things are much better in the anticipation than they prove to be in reality. I wonder how many will feel that when they reflect on their Christmas gifts on boxing day?

For Christians, hope is our main theme as we move into the Advent season, which starts on December 3rd (that’s the season before Christmas, which doesn’t technically start until December 24th).

It helps us to see our place in the great scheme of God’s unfolding plan which will find its fulfilment in eternity.

Even in the face of setbacks and resistance, we know God is up to something.

Our anticipation in Advent is not just about welcoming Jesus at Christmas, it’s about looking forward to his triumphant return to finish what he started.

This is the hope that motivated Christians to be at the forefront of the great campaigns of the 18th and 19th centuries to bring an end to slavery and improve working conditions.

In our current situation, it motivates us to be part of the provision of food banks, work with refugees and so much more.

Of course, many others are also involved, and we are always delighted to work on these issues with those of other faiths and none.

However, a hope drawn from a confidence of being part of a grand plan allows us to take the long view. We can be content with little acts of kindness, and to see a significance even in our, sometimes frail, efforts to make a difference.

A belief in blind-evolution that sees it solely as an outworking of blind chance over millennia can only propose the hope of decomposition!

In the face of suffering, all it can offer is different forms of distraction as a way of making the pain go away, or at least taking your mind of it.

Well, in contrast, I think I’ll keep going with hope and may you have a very happy, and hopeful, Advent.

Faith Matters

Meet the Nativity - video

For a fresh retelling of the Christmas story, where 1st and 21st century worlds collide, head to www.meetthenativity.com. Each week a new part of the story unfolds as the team from Speak Life help us think about the true meaning of Christmas. You can also order a free book called, ‘Four Kinds of Christmas’ and see their other seasonal and thought-provoking videos. There’s also behind the scenes footage from this year’s film shoot and more to explore.

Brighton Beach Huts Advent Calendar

From 5.30pm-6.30pm, 1st to 24th December, a different hut on Hove seafront will open to reveal an art installation as we count down the days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. This is the tenth Annual Beach Hut Advent Calendar. You can collect a stamp each night you visit and the person with the most stamps on Christmas Eve could win a fantastic chocolate hamper thanks to Divine chocolate. As it's our tenth event we also have 10 boxes of chocolates to give to 10 runners up. Please note only noe hut is open each night. More information and a downloadable map are available at www.beyondchurch.co.uk

Year of Prayer

On Sunday 3rd December, the Diocese of Chichester officially moved into a Year of Prayer. There will be many opportunities over the next 12 months to engage with prayer, and for now there are a number of resources and ideas on the Diocese of Chichester website.