Bah humbug! I have just spotted another advert on the TV advertising Christmas and it is only the beginning of November. I think I am turning into Ebenezer Scrooge – Lord have mercy! I have found myself chuntering about the deluge of adverts now Halloween is over. Having turned 50 a couple of years back I am clearly on the slide to Grumpy Old Man status.
BUT…I do believe it is important to wait for Christmas otherwise we end up devaluing it. For us, as Christians, Christmas is first and foremost a spiritual event and cannot be rushed. Think of Mary waiting for 9 months – you cannot rush a pregnancy! The church has used the time before Christmas to help us prepare (Prepare the way of the Lord say Isaiah and John the Baptist). For the Church, the Christmas season begins on Christmas Day and lasts through to January 5th (twelfth night). Epiphany is celebrated on 6th January recalling the arrival of the wise men/magi/stargazers/kings or the ones who got to wear the posh clothes instead of the tea towels in the school nativity.
At the recent local preachers training day, preachers and others gathered to think about Advent and how we can use this time in our churches to help us prepare to celebrate Christmas. All the circuit churches were represented and between us we reflected on the Bible passages we might encounter in Advent and what ideas might flow from this. This is being developed as a gift offered for use by all our churches along with the traditional advent wreath.
One of the key questions for us in advent is what does it mean to let Jesus a little bit more into my life? What does it look/feel like? A time for honest reflection – thinking about what it means to be in the dark, or what it feels like to be trapped? Can we open ourselves just a little bit more in the knowledge that we are met with the truth of God – the light of the world breaking through boundaries, the word becoming flesh reaching out with love. Christmas is huge! Like the arrival of a first child, it is like nothing we have ever encountered and turns our lives upside down: it even has the capacity to transform a grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge. No wonder the shepherds were terrified and amazed and the angels sang “Glory to God in the highest” (but not before Christmas night!!)