I am very pleased to say that pupils from Tottington Primary School will once again be taking the Church Nativity figures around the parish this Advent. This year the figures of The Virgin Mary, St Joseph, the shepherds and a selection of stable animals will go to Bradleys the Physiotherapist, Bobbles the hairdressers, Hudsons the bakers and Carmelo’s restaurant. They will stay in each location for about a week and finally be brought into Church on Christmas Eve morning.
Accompanying the Nativity scene will be a strap line highlighting the work of Caritas that supports homeless and vulnerable people in Bury. It provides another wonderful opportunity to engage with the wider community and I am very grateful indeed to those businesses, and of course TPS, who are so willing to be associated with St Anne’s and what we are about.
As we enter the season of Advent we need to make sure that we too do not take our eyes off the destination to which it leads us. Many of us will be overwhelmed and sometimes over-faced by an endless stream of activity – much of which, it has to be said, is great fun and very enjoyable with friends and family.
But we need to remain attentive as we move towards the great celebration on Christmas Eve. The journey of Advent leads us to the Christ child, to the Incarnation of God the Holy Trinity. But that journey, as with any journey, requires preparation and planning. Might I commend to you the very simple objective of reading and re-reading the first two chapters of the Gospel according to St Matthew and the first two according to St Luke during Advent. They are not particularly long at all, and as you do so reflect upon the story that we are all too familiar with.
Jesus was homeless, born in poverty, to a persecuted people, forced to become a refugee. Jesus asks us to call him brother and to see his face in those who are vulnerable and suffering in our own day. In serving them we will also be serving the Christ Child who is the destination of our journeying.