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A Prayer for Advent

December 4th, 2015

One of the highlights of yesterday’s meeting of Governors and Feoffees was Canon Cross reading a prayer for Advent written by Richard Baxter.

Baxter, for those of you unfamiliar with this ‘chief of English Protestant Schoolmen’, had a very dynamic ministry in and around Kidderminster and Bridgnorth throughout much of the 17th century.  It was Baxter above all others who persuaded Thomas Foley to establish Old Swinford Hospital in 1667.

We believe Baxter wrote his prayer at the beginning of Advent in 1691.  At this time, religious intolerance in the form of the continued Spanish Inquisition was burning its way through Majorca; refugees were fleeing Ireland at the end of the Williamite War (including the original ‘Wild Geese’); the pre-imperial British were colonising America whilst the imperial Chinese, the Qing, had just conquered Mongolia.

Today’s geopolitics has a different flavour to those understood by Baxter’s contemporaries but there is still much common ground.

In previous blogs and assemblies I have emphasised the need to carry on and to do so with hope.  That is, perhaps, why Baxter’s prayer can be as much a source of encouragement now as I’m sure it was back then.

He wrote:

Keep us, O Lord,
while we tarry on this earth,
in a serious seeking after you,
and in an affectionate walking with you,
every day of our lives;
that when you come,
we may be found not hiding our talent,
nor serving the flesh,
nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished,
but waiting and longing for our Lord,
our glorious God for ever.
Amen.

Advent continues at OSH with the Old Foleyans’ Association service of lessons and carols at Great Witley tomorrow.  The School choir is in good voice.  It would be difficult to find a more Christmas-spirited moment to have us ‘serious seeking’ and ‘affectionate walking’ whilst enjoying the ‘waiting and longing’ that Advent brings.  We continue and conclude next Friday at St Mary’s.

With all good wishes this Advent,

Paul Kilbride