However, the 'real' Christmas is precisely that. It’s about God coming into the real world - one in turmoil, with false expectations, profligate spending, hurt, broken relationships and fear. A world that is broken and in need of the love and healing compassion that only Jesus can bring.
Advent themes must, therefore, include repentance and making ourselves ready to receive Jesus when he comes. We are reminded that not only do we live across the 2 worlds, the one that appears to have lost the plot and the one that lives by the kingdom values, but that we also operate in 2 different timescales, namely the here and now and the future of life beyond now. Now is the time when we can meet God through Jesus and live in his reflected light.
However we look at Advent it is indeed time for preparation. Amidst the hectic rush, time taken to communicate with God through some quiet time gives us space and time to understand the gift that is to be given at Christmas. If we create some space for reflection we begin to understand God's love for us and how we can make our own response. The world might be urging us headlong into the celebrations but Advent cautions us to wait, be still, alert and expectant. As the doors on the Advent calendars are opened and the Advent candles burn down, remember that we are preparing to celebrate God becoming involved with our world in Jesus. When Christmas has passed, once again we will still have the assurance that God is there for us every day and our Advent preparations will have served us well.
Enjoy your Advent preparation.
The real Advent by Rev Dilys
The mild November weather has been a welcome interlude but, as we approach the beginning of December, more seasonal temperatures will remind us that winter is upon us.
Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the new Christian year, when we turn our thoughts to the preparation for the great festival of Christmas. Before we get to that point, though, we need to take time to really appreciate what all the preparation is leading to.
Looked at from another point of view, in four weeks Christmas will be over, in five a new calendar year will have brought us another set of 'bound for failure' resolutions. In six the decorations will have come down and the furniture of life will be back in place, and we will be back to, yes, what? Will life be just the same or will we be changed?
Time for change
If we take Advent seriously, I hope we will be changed, because we will have had the opportunity to reflect again on what it means to say that God came into the world, in great humility, at the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem. And that he still comes into the world in all its pain and anguish as well as its joy,longing for us to recognise him.
Advent is a godsend, a gift which stops us in our tracks and helps us see that, whilst we live in the world around us, we are part of something must greater - God's eternal Kingdom.
Some will bemoan the secularisation of the Christmas festival saying that the 'real' Christmas isn't about its commercialisation.