advent wreath stjohnscamberwellorgauThe season of Advent is upon us as we await the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.

Advent resources for Catholics and Protestants has a good list of websites by denomination. Included are short films and activities for children to better understand the season. Please be sure to check for ‘2012 updates’ for the most recent pages.

The following posts explain the themes of Advent, as John the Baptist preached them two millennia ago. These include anticipation, repentance and charity:

Advent reflections: John the Baptist and the Apocalypse

Advent: Make straight a highway

Advent: John the Baptist’s message of Good News — and repentance

John the Baptist, charity and Advent

Some people call Christians hypocrites because they only give at Christmas. This is not true. However, we make a special effort at this time of year recalling John the Baptist’s answer to his followers regarding charity (Luke 3:10-11):

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Speaking of John the Baptist, the following post tells the story of his father, the elderly Zechariah, who was temporarily struck dumb for not believing the angel who told him his post-menopausal wife Elizabeth would soon bear a son:

Advent: Mary’s Magnificat and Zechariah’s prophecy in Luke 1

It also discusses the Archangel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, who conceived by the Holy Spirit, whilst her cousin Elizabeth was in her final trimester.advent_annunciation botticelli

Truly, it was a dramatic and intense time for all involved. Joseph, too, wondered whether he should quietly dissolve his relationship with Mary (Matthew 1:19). More personal upheaval is hard to imagine. They must have had questions from people. One cannot help but wonder what was asked and how, through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, they responded.

And poor Zechariah must have been busy writing on slates for nine months!