Sunday Services

8.00 Eucharist

10.00 The Parish Eucharist

10.00 Junior Church

18.30 Evening Prayer

19.00 Benediction

Weekday Eucharists

Tuesday 10.00

Wednesday 19.00

Thursday 10.00

Friday 12.30

Saturday 18.00

Contact Details
Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Street, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3JG.
01823 354800
Facebook:  Holy Trinity Taunton

Fr Julian writes...

Four-letter words are not something which we admit to using, or are pleasant to hear.  On the one hand they shock and are either used for that purpose, or else such common parlance that their users aren’t aware of how often these words are employed and so, to them, they become meaningless.  Advent is about one four-letter word, which either causes shock, offends or is meaningless.  And here it comes:  that word is hope.

Advent is THE season of hope.  It is far more positive and productive than would seem from the traditional Advent Calendars which for so many are devoid of any Christian content are and are used as a countdown to the so-called climax of Christmas – Christmas Day itself.  Because of this, many people’s expectations of the fulfilment of hope are channelled into anticipation of what presents they are likely to receive, or how much food, sweets and drink will be consumed.

The hope that we await in some sense does climax on Christmas day, but only in so far as that is the day when hope is born in the human condition, and is realised in flesh and blood.  Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and so can only begin on Christmas day.  Those for whom Christmas Day is the end of Christmas are actually missing quite a few tricks, the most important being the concept of hope.

But how can ‘hope’ cause shock?  Maybe we are shocked to think that despite all human understanding and expectations, there is always hope.  When we hear of political unrest in Zimbabwe, the starving of the Yemen, the destruction of life by terrorism is Nigeria; when we see the homeless on the streets, the lonely looking out the window, the guilty queues at the Foodbank or the Open Door, to suggest hope in those situations is almost shocking – it is unrealistic.

Gloom-mongers will be offended by idea of hope.  Their power is lost.  However, it is not just those whose glasses are half-empty who may be offended by the idea of hope, but also those who are disposed towards evil, in big or little ways.  Think about it.  If there is hope, then the force of negativity which is so seemingly prevalent today, is dissipated and loses much effect.  The darker things seem, the brighter the light becomes.  So hope is offensive to those who have no hope themselves for the good, and wish to deprive others of it as well.

Perhaps one of the most meaningless and common expressions of hope today is that expression, ‘Have a nice day’.  I know that is meant well, but its overuse leads one to suspect insincerity – even if none is intended.  Overuse leads to the devaluing and debasement of words, and hope is amongst those.  So often ‘hope’ is defined as the highly unlikely realisation of something which is but a dream or a fantasy.  You can’t get more real than a baby.

You may have heard, as I have, people saying that they can’t believe in God when there is so much evil in the world.  My reaction is that I have to believe in God because there is so much evil in the world.  Because I can see that humanity with its age-long fascination and fixation with ‘-isms’ or ‘-ologies’, be they political, economic or social has made very little lasting difference to the condition of the world.

The only time when there will be complete and true and lasting peace, justice and reconciliation in the world is when God’s kingdom is realised.  That is the hope of Advent, the coming of the Kingdom of God, which is prefigured in the birth of Jesus, the embodiment of hope.

Let’s bring this four-letter word back into right use in our living.  Not using hope as a means to shock, or offend or as a meaningless word, but one which does what it says on the tin – let’s prepare for the birth of hope, and the coming of the Kingdom.