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Second Week of Advent: Wednesday

For those keeping count, today we are as near as makes very little odds half way through Advent.  December 12th - twelve 'windows' opened on the Advent Calendar, half the daily graduations burned down on the single candle, and so on.

And of course it's one of those dates that people get excited about... 12/12/12.  At twelve minutes past twelve (or as near as I can manage) I will be meeting up with folk from our Coffee Club for our annual Christmas meal.  The official meet time is 12:15 but some of us kind of fancied 12:12...

What is it about this kind of calendar coincidence that captures our attention?  I recall the so-called auspicious date of 8/8/88 on which Princess Beatrice was born.  I recall the wibbly feeling around the end of the twentieth century and the so-called millennium bug... was had to test all our software to make sure it would not keel over at or after 9/9/99 (for those old enough to remember things like FORTRAN, 99 and 999 were popular line numbers for coding complex routines;) and then of course the 00:00 01/01/00 and would all the planes fall out of the sky or some other preventable catastrophe...

Some people are saying this is the last such date we will ever see (on the grounds that by 1st January 2101 we'll all be dead) others are saying the next one is next week as we reach 20/12/2012.

Well, whatever we may think, and however amusing or intriguing it all is (I recall signing off about fifty documents on 9/9/99) basically it is just another day, and the numbers an almost arbitrary system for recording things we judge significant.

There is nothing new in observing that the first Advent went unmarked, that even for the first four hundred years or so Advent did not exist.  Perhaps it is good to be reminded of that today, half way to Bethlehem. To recall that for all our systems and superstitions, we cannot predict or restrict God's potential to burst into our experiences afresh.

Advent is helpful, otherwise why would I be writing all this stuff, but we need to be careful lest it becomes either one more box-ticking exercise or inappropriately overlaid with folk-religion.


Timeless God

Beyond counting or containing

Who breathed order into disorder

And gave form to creation

Help us both to delight in the patterns and rhythms of the natural world

And to recognised our propensity to make more of them than they really are


As we journey onwards

In the ordinary everyday stuff of life

Alert us to hints of the extraordinary

That will surprise and delight us afresh


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