Rev Dr Tess Kuin Lawton, Chaplain of Magdalen College School, Oxford

THE other day, as I was clearing out my bookshelves, I came across a beautiful leather-bound copy of the Book of Common Prayer.

Turning to the readings for the ‘First Sunday in Advent’, I re-read part of the 13th chapter of St Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome.

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law... And now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light.”

You might not think of this as particularly Adventy, but it is. For the Church, Advent is the start of the the new year.

My new diary starts on November 29. Advent calendars, of course, begin on December 1, but Advent Sunday will always come four Sundays before Christmas Day.

This week, at my school, the final rugby games of the season are being played. Could they have reached this point without training for months?

They will remember the glories of the season, but first had to look deep into their souls to acknowledge their weaknesses and flaws. Only then could they prepare.

This week, at MCS, the musicians are sitting exams.

How many hours did they spend stumbling over chords and straining to reach the right pitch? You have to look hard at your failings if you are really going to succeed.

In four weeks, God becomes flesh and dwells among us. “The night is passed, the day lies open before us.” What state is our heart in? Are we ready for Him? As St Paul says: “Now it is high time to wake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”

Our rugby teams have dreamed the impossible this term, and our musicians had a great vision of glory that most of us can barely imagine.

The White Queen in Alice in Wonderland told Alice she regularly believed “at least six impossible things before breakfast”.

If the impossible is something which gives you hope, asks that you love your neighbour and gives you the courage to cast off the works of darkness, perhaps it, too, is worth preparing for?