The Season of Advent
It’s been a very busy, but enjoyable, week in the Chaplaincy department. It started with a beautiful Eucharist, presided over by the Dean, in the Quire of the Cathedral, for members of the Prep department, staff and parents. The readings and prayers were led by our Heads and Deputy Heads of School, with Olivia, Charlie and Evie serving the Altar and leading the processions. I was very proud to see our pupils engage so whole heartedly with the worship, it was a great way to mark the start of Advent, a solemn season at the beginning of the Church year, in which to reflect upon what it means to be a follower of Christ, before looking forward to the joy and festivities of the Christmas season.
Throughout the service, a large, carefully wrapped box stood in the middle of the Quire. We wondered what it could be inside, and why was it there in the first place?
So often at this time of year we get distracted by the busyness of preparing for Christmas, we get caught up in the relentless chatter of advertisers, who insist that the success of Christmas lies in ensuring you buy the right thing: the right present, the right food, even the right wrapping paper! We can get so consumed by the stress of getting ready for Christmas that we forget about the true purpose of the season itself.
Whilst we were discussing what could be in this mysterious box shaped present, Summer in Yr 5 suggested it was ‘a box filled with love’, a very imaginative guess, and one not too far off!
For, as some pupils found out during their worship later in the week, when the box was unwrapped a beautiful star shaped balloon bobbed out, twinkling above our heads! But why as star?
Well, as Yr 4 pointed out, all those years ago the Wise Men followed the star, across desert, mountains and plains, to arrive in the town of Bethlehem, where they found a helpless little baby lying in a manger. The star helped them to find the greatest gift a person could receive, the gift of God’s love.
As Christians, we know that God loves us because He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, to tell us so. Through Jesus, each and every one of us can have a personal, loving relationship with God who is OUR father. This is the true meaning of Christmas, the truest gift imaginable!
Marking the season of Advent helps us look forward to celebrating the coming of Christ, but it also helps us reflect on how we can share this gift with others. During the Pre-Prep Advent service earlier today, we talked about how we can share God’s gift of love. Not by spending all our money on presents, or by stuffing our tummies full of food, but by simply sharing God’s love. A friendly smile, an offer of help, a thoughtful prayer; doing even one of these things helps God’s love shine forth, like a candle in the darkness.
Over the next few weeks, when I may find myself becoming caught up in Christmas preparations, I’m going to try to just take a moment to think about that bobbing star, reminding myself that all that really matters is God’s love, and how I share this with those I meet.
Looking forward, the stillness and peace of advent gives a much-welcomed time to reflect before the festivities flourish and the celebrations start. As a school, we will be marking the arrival of Christmas with our annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols (the Carol Service) which takes place next week (Friday 14th) at 11am in the Nave of the Cathedral. Every single pupil will be taking part and it promises to be a very moving act of worship, where we can all gather together as one ECS community. You and your families are warmly welcome to attend. I look forward to seeing you there!
Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, School Lay Chaplain