We often complain that Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year. Christmas cards appear in the shops by September and as soon as Halloween and Bonfire night are out of the way, up go the Christmas trees and decorations in the shops and restaurants and we are serenaded by Christmas Carols and cheesy Christmas songs as we shop or dine. Even our Christmas Fairs are well before Advent starts.
However, perhaps we are wrong to say that Christmas starts earlier and earlier, perhaps we should be saying that Advent starts earlier and earlier, and that can’t be a bad thing. After all it is the Christmas preparations that we are doing when we are Christmas shopping, and Advent is a time of preparing for Christmas. And in fact it could be said that by getting the shopping and other prep out of the way early we are more able to appreciate Advent and then Christmas for the special times of preparation and celebration that they are. Advent can then be the time of reflection it should be as we hunker down for the dark nights and we contemplate the promise of hope and the light coming into the world in the form of a tiny baby who is to be our Saviour.
As we wrap our presents we can ask ourselves what is it that we most desire? What kind of world do we want to live in and pass on to the next generation? What will it cost us to achieve this and how will we answer for ourselves at the end of all things?
As we write our cards we can think about the networks or communities we belong to. How are we helping to bring hope and encouragement to others? How are we addressing the problems we see all around us – loneliness is a major issue for many people and can lead on to other problems such as mental health issues and addictions.
As we prepare our homes and plan our menus for our families and friends to visit us we can perhaps think of those who have no homes or who are in war torn places.
I know there will be those reading this who are doing all they can to bring hope and light to others. I see it happening in our church and it’s wonderful. May you find rich blessing this Christmas. I also know there many who are lonely and have no family around them and who really appreciate the thoughtful actions of friends and neighbours.
I pray that God will bless you in particular with his peace and joy this Christmas. It’s hard not to feel sorry for oneself when you think everyone else is having a fantastic time, although we all know that’s often not the case when families get together!
So yes it’s good to be organised and ready for Christmas well in advance – for the rest of us please take time to stop and remember the “reason for the season” is Jesus. Make space in your hearts to welcome him. At the start of Advent set up your crib, light a candle and spend a few minutes each day giving thanks for the best present of all.
A very happy and blessed Christmas to each of you,
Angela (and Peter)