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BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

The Archbishop delivers a Pause for Thought, looking ahead to the start of Advent. His pause follows in full...

Today, November twenty-second holds many secrets. For example in 1906, International Radio Communications adopted a code-signal of extreme distress, ĚS Ō  ĚS) (three dots, three dashes, three dots), used especially by ships at sea –colloquially meaning urgent appeal for help.

And today’s other secret? This day marks five days before Advent – which means arrival, especially of someone important, and in this case, a season of four weeks before Christmas.

Advent is traditionally a time in the Church’s year of preparation, reflection, saying sorry and putting right what we have done wrong and doing those things we have failed to do – as we look forward to Jesus’ birthday at Christmas.

Advent’s clarion call is: wake-up, clean-up, feed-up, and grow-up: Active and Focussed waiting. Learning from Jesus’ story of wise and foolish ways of the ten girls, waiting for the arrival of a bridegroom, who had only one task: to keep their lamps burning so that they can light their lamps to welcome the bridegroom to the wedding banquet.

Waiting, when we can’t keep busy, is a real challenge to our concentration and focus. It’s hard work for the mind. Five girls kept to the task; five others were unwise and careless.

A story is told of a percussion player in an orchestra that had rehearsed Ravel’s Bolero hard. The man’s job was to strike the cymbals as a climax at the end of the piece.

As you know, Ravel’s Bolero has the same tune and the same rhythm repeated throughout – 18 variations of the same melody, each played by different instruments. The percussion player had to listen very carefully and count the bars until his great moment came. One lapse of concentration, one brief shift of focus and he lost count! He missed his entry and it was too late for his great finale.

With an openness to the world and our eyes fixed on Jesus who came at Christmas, Embodying Love, Peace and Justice, may we be ready to play our part however small when the moment comes. Active and focussed waiting.


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