FROM THE MANSE
It’s here again! The season of Advent and Christmas. The tradition of Christmas suggests that it is the time for peace and goodwill to all folk. The time you give gifts, go to parties and attend family reunions. It may also be a time for you to be extravagant to your loved ones buying them luxuries like expensive jewellery or watches, or maybe you spend money on the many bargains on offer that people don’t really want! Perhaps you participate in your workplace secret Santa gift exchange, where you get to choose a present for someone you do not know! Maybe you will have your annual glass of sherry or drink much more than you normally do? Perhaps you will attend your child’s Christmas concert, or go to see a Christmas show or Pantomime, maybe even come to one of the many carol concerts in the church or community venue. Perhaps you will indulge in a turkey dinner, with Christmas Pudding and mince pies, and festoon your house with a Christmas tree, decorations and lights!
Strangely enough, these are traditions that have grown in the United Kingdom around this time of year, but they have little or nothing to do with the season of Advent or Christmas as we would recognise it in the church liturgical calendar. Advent is a serious time of preparation. It investigates the past, and looks toward the future, to tell us what God has in store for his people. Advent gives us some serious warnings about living as God calls us to live.
Christmas is a time of remembering about the birth of Jesus, and it’s a refugee story, focused around the plight one family forced to keep the peace and do what God expected of them. There may be stars in the sky, and angels singing, and babies being born, bringing joy and good news for some, but fear and anxiety for many others.
I wonder which of these two observations makes more sense to you and your world? I wonder which of these scenarios impacts on your own life at this time of year?
In both there is something to celebrate and to fear. In the tradition you can enjoy the festivities, but they leave you tired and exhausted, and perhaps in debt. In the Liturgical year, you celebrate God coming among us, and walking and living down our street, not just for a season, but for ever. Yes, it may challenge your lifestyle and your view of God and the church, but sometimes that’s no bad thing in a world that seems to have little to offer us in the way of leadership or radical living.
May this Christmas be for you a time of joy, wonder and discovery. May you feel the joy and peace of the season, and be treated well by others, and blessed by God in ways you may never have imagined, because this time you listened to him and the story that shapes all our Christmas’s!
Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year