An Advent Reflection from Bishop Susan Bell

Posted December 3, 2023


Bishop's Arms

A Message from the Bishop of Niagara
The Right Reverend Susan Bell


People, look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:  Love, the guest, is on the way.

In this lovely, old carol sung at Advent, faithful people are told to look with expectation to the east and prepare themselves to welcome Love: the Christ.

We have certainly been looking east for months: east to Ukraine, east to Afghanistan and of course, east to the land of the Holy One. However, it has had a distinctly unholy look to it in recent times. And yet, that is from where our Saviour comes.  That should maybe tell us something about Jesus.

We have read and wept as the violence has unfolded over all the news outlets this past year. We have donated sacrificially and prayed unceasingly for peace. And yet, and yet, the fighting and the pain continues on unabated.

It may seem hard to prepare celebrate the birth of the Christ in the midst of this turmoil. But it is what people of peace have done for millenia in good times and in bad. And despite what might seem the idealized words of the carols we sing at this time of year, Christ enters into this world as it is with its wars and chaos and death. Jesus comes to love this world fiercely and in defiance of the powers of death.

It was the great Martin Luther King who said that:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness:  only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate:  only Love can do that.”

And I think we need to remember that. I think it helps: that Jesus came to this imperfect, hot mess of a world.  He didn’t arrive in some perfect world. God chose this world to send God’s only son into – so that Jesus could show us what God’s love looks and feels like and how it can transform this world through us. The One for whom we prepare; the One whom we expect is  Emmanuel:  God with us.

I think it helps to remember that as we pass through this time of preparation and expectation; that God chose you and me and the rest of this imperfect, difficult world to love.

May God bless you and keep you as we pray together: Maranatha,

Come Lord Jesus, Come!


The Right Reverend Susan J.A. Bell
Bishop of Niagara