From the editor

Telling the story

THE singer-songwriter Adele has just released her latest album, 30. A large proportion of people buying it will do so through an audio streaming service such as Spotify, listening to it via the internet rather than buying a CD. However, one feature of streaming services annoys Adele – the shuffle option, which plays album tracks randomly. She asked Spotify to hide that feature so that people can listen to 30 in the right order. And Spotify did. Adele later tweeted: ‘We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our track listing for no reason. Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended. Thank you Spotify for listening.’ In response Spotify tweeted: ‘Anything for you.’

Whether it’s a novel or an album, following a story in the correct order makes sense of it. Seeing how characters and their experiences develop, putting events in context and building up to the part where everything falls into place helps us enjoy a story. It’s always best to resist the temptation to read the last chapter first!

When it comes to the Christian story, there is also a sequence to follow. The big story is of creation, fall and redemption leading to ‘a new Heaven and a new Earth’ (Revelation 21:1). Within that are many other narratives that add detail to the big story. One of those is Advent. In the second of their seasonal reflections Ron Thomlinson and the Rev James Macfarlane consider the significance of the Advent narratives. Although these are familiar to most of us, they can come fresh each year, says James. That happens not only by reading them in the right order, but also by digging deeper into their meaning.

The meaning of the story of Advent is lost on many people because commercialism has obscured it, says Jeff Morton in his viewpoint article. ‘The message that God is with us has been buried and lost among the tinsel, gifts and music,’ he says. He takes a closer look at some of the details of the Nativity story.

Major Nigel Bovey helps us explore the deeper meaning of Advent in his Bible study on the opening verses of John’s Gospel. Unlike Matthew and Luke, John doesn’t tell the story of the first Christmas but, instead, reflects on its significance by referring back to the opening chapter of the big story: the creation of the universe. In that context Jesus is seen as the one who brings life and light into the world.

The Christian story is not just what we read in the Bible. It continues to be written, and we all contribute to it through the words we speak and actions we take in bringing something of Heaven to Earth. This week’s Salvationist includes many examples of that. For instance, in another of our features on chaplaincy, we learn about the ministry of Army airport chaplains. Whether in brief encounters with passengers or ongoing support for staff members, they live out the faith story.

As we read and reflect on the familiar Advent story again this year, may we gain new and deeper insights – for our own sakes and so that others might make sense of the story of Jesus and become part of it themselves.

From the editor


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