Thank God this Advent, says bishop

AP

The Bishop of Wolverhampton is encouraging people to admit their transgressions to God this Advent - and be thankful they are forgiven.

The Right Reverend Clive Gregory was led to reflect on the issue of sin and forgiveness after recently receiving a motoring fine.

Writing in his Pastoral Letter for December, Bishop Gregory considers the way in which some transgressions come to light and others do not.

He recommends Advent as a season to examine our own hearts and hold our failings up to the light of Jesus' teaching so that we can be wiped clean before Christmas.

The bishop reflects on the chicane of emotions he felt after receiving the ticket, saying, "I went through various feeling: anger ('shouldn't they be concentrating on catching dangerous drivers rather than setting traps for people like me?'); denial ('I'm sure the speed limit wasn't signposted properly'); resignation ('I wonder whether I can do a course rather than take all the points on my licence?').

"But a sense of smouldering resentment lingered and a little self-pity ('They would have films in those particular cameras wouldn't they?). I have thought of myself as a victim of the arbitrary and cruel hand of fate.

"And the truth is that countless transgressions (motoring and otherwise) go unnoticed and unpunished every minute of every day. If there were cameras on every road in the country I don't suppose many of us would be left to drive after a while. If there was a film detailing our every thought and action, could any of us bear to watch it?"

He encouraged people to make themselves accountable to God "with a fresh transparency" this Advent.

"Thank God, literally, for the season of Advent," he says.

"Our lives are all disfigured by what the Bible calls 'works of darkness'. Most of them, most of the time, like motoring offences, we get away with, so it takes honesty and courage to bring them into the light, the place of painful scrutiny.

"But it is only when held up to the light, the light of Christ's teaching and example, His love and forgiveness, that our particular pools of darkness can be dispelled and their power over us taken away."

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