I was ordained on the 29th June 1986, and my uncles only agreed to come to the celebration if I could guarantee a television would be available at 6.00pm so they could see the match! It was just my luck that the day the Bishop assigned to me was also the World Cup Final, Argentina v West Germany in Mexico, KO 12.00 midday. The Argentinians were captained by Diego Maradona. Did he score in that match? No, but in the 86th minute he slipped the perfect pass to Jorge Burruchaga who drove past Suchmacher into the German net, the uncles roared in delight, Argentina held on to win 3-2 and the diminutive Maradona proudly hoisted the trophy aloft.

After his exploits in the England game, with the ‘hand of God’ goal followed by perhaps the most perfect of all his scores they seemed destined to have the victory and the world had a super star. It’s a long time since he kicked a ball in competition and yet he was and remains one of the most accomplished, naturally talented footballers of all time, known the world over. In footballer heaven, he will share the date of his passing with George Best as they both departed the world on November 25th. May he rest in peace.

I should probably be writing some wise words about Advent, but I know that everyone will be entering into these precious weeks with a great appetite for the celebration of the Nativity when Christmas comes.

We all need time to prepare, and this year above all we need the hope that the birth of our Saviour promises to all of creation. With the simplicity of shepherds and joy of angels we await his coming and make space in our hearts, our homes and our busy lives for the prince of peace.

We will follow the biblical star and find that it halts where Christ is born.

Let Advent begin!