Vicar’s letter: The days of Christmas – some thoughts for Advent and Christmas
Easter eggs will be on sale from 26 December, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day cards will soon appear on the shelves, and holiday companies will advertise bargains for family summer holidays!
What’s happening to Christmas? It began in September, building up to a frenzy in December: the ‘must give’ gifts, and the ‘must eat’ food. Then it was 25 December, the final day of celebration (did it live up to the hype?) and now it’s all over. The decorations look sad and tired, the gifts not nearly as exciting as they looked under wraps; but never mind, it’ll soon be….whatever.
For many people Advent means calendars with chocolate in them and Christmas is over when Boxing Day sales begins. And the Church gets caught up in it all. It has to if it’s to meet the needs of schools and wider communities for carol services and nativity plays. But somewhere among the wrapping paper, cards, mince pies and satsumas is the question: what happened to the ‘real’ spiritual Christmas? Perhaps we need to find new ways of observing these seasons in keeping with their true spiritual meaning.
Traditionally the Church’s year begins on the first of the four Sundays of Advent. We’re invited to use this time to prepare ourselves both for a celebration of the humble birth of the Christ child and for the coming again of that child as Christ the King. We’re invited to reflect on our own spiritual journey and where we are before Christ who will be our judge.
And then the Church’s Christmas season begins on 25 December. This is the day for bright lights to shine, for joyful songs to ring out, for all the festivities to get under way for the twelve days of Christmas. We celebrate after the birth of a child into our families and so it is with the birth of Jesus. God has fulfilled his promise and now we can give thanks and praise.
Alleluia! Christ is born. He is born indeed, alleluia!
May God bless you all.
Ian (Rev Canon Ian Greenhalgh)
Saturday 14 December: “Austwick Entertains” An evening of music and entertainment for Christmas in Austwick Parish Hall. 7.00 pm for 7.30 pm. Bar. Tickets from Crossleigh Stores are £8.00 (£4 for children or £20 for family ticket) and include a glass of wine or soft drink and refreshments. This is a fund raising event for Austwick Parish Hall, so please come and help support this important village amenity.
December wreath making workshop. Once again Melanie Greenhalgh will be leading a workshop in Austwick Parish Hall – exact date in December to be confirmed. To book your place please contact Melanie tel 51313 – tickets are £8 including seasonal refreshments. Please bring any baubles you wish to include in your display and a small supply of greenery – additional foliage, rings, ribbons, etc will be provided. Do join us for a fun afternoon.