“Let me know your way”, one of the Advent Sunday psalms begins. What wonderful words to begin a new Christian year. It is this day, not the secular’s New Year’s Day that we should make our resolutions, such as to deepen our personal relationship with our beloved Saviour, and to be a more effective witness to Him. Thus Advent enables us to commence a new year on a very positive note - to examine our progress in love. Have we grown in our love for our dear Lord and others during the past year? Have our hearts and minds become clogged with so many others matters that our very being has stagnated? Have we lost the freshness and fervour of responding each day in love to the wonderful gifts and opportunities God has given us through His overflowing love?
    We can make Advent a time when we are choked by our business for Christmas festivities as we almost forget in whose honour the festivities are held. Or we can make Advent a time when we stock up on spiritual strength for meeting the Christ Child. One way of doing this is for us to realise that when we buy or make our Christmas gifts it is because we wish to share in God’s giving. Another way is when we are wrapping up our presents for those we love dearly is to ponder on another wrapping - when Mary wrapped the newly born Babe, the second person of the Trinity, who was content to be a child because God loves us so much.

    Our theme on Advent Sunday is ascending the holy mountain of God, Mt. Zion. As Isaiah expressed it, “Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord” (Isa. 2. 3). By being prepared to go up to the mountain for the three to four weeks of Advent means that not only can we be alone with God without distractions and noise, but we can also gain a better perspective of our every day living. From a mountain top we see shapes and shadows which cannot be recognised from the plain. Everything is sharper; we are able to perceive shapes we have never visualised before. Often our every day living becomes something of a blur, one thing hardly becomes distinguishable from the next. However on our mountain-top we have the opportunity to see clearly. It may be almost a new world we shall perceive. The longer we look from the mountain-top, the more of course we shall perceive. We shall see the shape of our own lives more distinctly and hopefully as we linger there during Advent we can begin to reshape the rougher edges of our lives.
    While we are on the mountain-top God also wants it to be a place where He can teach us more clearly His ways. What kind of things does He want to teach us? One is judgment. From our readings for Advent Sunday, we learn from both Matthew and Luke that the day will come when we must face judgment from the Son of Man. However both gospels make clear that we do not know the day or hour. No computer technology can work this out. Thus we shall never know the exact moment, but we can prepare for it. What better time than Advent to make that resolution to live each day as if it were our last. This we can easily do by hearkening to John the Baptist’s words of repentance that begin Mark’s gospel, read on Advent Sunday in the “B” Cycle. 
    However we do know that we shall be judged by our Lord who loves us so much that He died for us. So the second lesson God teaches us on our mountain is love. Not only shall we be judged by Love but also on how much we have loved God and our brothers and sisters. We can heed Paul’s advice “may the Lord make your love increase and overflow to one another and to everyone” (1 Thess. 3. 12).
    If we are prepared to let God teach us on His holy mountain we shall descend “in the light of the Lord”. In that light we shall examine each day, and allow it to discard all dross as it penetrates our souls. That light will also keep us in His presence, and lead us to Him on the mountain, time and time again, where in quietness we can learn of Him. As we learn more about Him, we grow in our love and understanding of Christ, which in turn enables us to see His love in others as we meet them. That love and light never leave us, perhaps they may dim but that is because we block their rays by putting other objects in their path. 
    Advent also teaches us to be a light for Christ. In one of his Advent sermons the Caroline divine, Mark Frank, taking those words from Matthew’s gospel preached: 
Christians ‘are the light of the world,’ and a light is not to be put ‘under a bushel, but on a candlestick, to give light unto all that are in the house. Let your light therefore shine before men.’ Shine so before them that they may see your good works, see and glorify, glorify God who has given such graces unto men. 

    Judgment - love - light - these give us much to meditate upon this day on God’s holy mountain.

    O blessed Lord let me never forget that you are not only my saviour but also my judge who came into this world to alleviate all darkness. Give me light to reveal those dark areas in my life so that I in turn may be a light to others as I prepare for your comings. Amen.

Marianne Dorman
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 WHAT if this present were the worlds last night?
 Marke in my heart. O Soule, where thou dost dwell,
 The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
 whether that countenance can thee affright,
 Teares in his eyes quench the amasing light,
 Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc'd head fell.
 Which pray'd forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
 No, no; but as in my idolatrie
 I said to all my profane mistresses,
 Beauty, of pitty, foulnesse onely is
 A signe of rigour: so I say to thee,
 To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign's,
 This beauteous forme assures a pitious minde.

                     John Donne
`Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord   to the house of the God of Jacob,
  that He may teach us His ways
 and that we may walk in his paths.'
  ... Come, people of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord. 
                                                                        Isaiah 2:3 & 5