Thoughts from the Rectory

I’m writing this as we are undergoing the second Lockdown and now into Tier 4. It’s been more than eight months living in limbo. People are tired, listless and crushed in spirit. We want life as before. There is a yearning to save Christmas. We want our Christmas back. Now more than ever.

Maybe not as theologians want Christmas. They think of Christmas saving us, not us saving Christmas. They talk of a light coming out of the darkness, not fairy lights twinkling on a tree. But we’ve been celebrating it since Stonehenge and we want it and need to celebrate it now.

There’s a temptation to put the tree up in November and jump-start Christmas early. We want chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Carol singers. Wrapped presents stacked. Cakes, crackers, tinsel and turkey. Make it big, make it loud and  make it last. Celebrate!

But we can’t just say ‘Boo!’ to the darkness, or to the virus, turn on the stereo and just party. It won’t work. If we try and force our way to Christmas its going to come a cropper.

So, what can we do? Indeed, is there anything we can do? Let’s go back to the Christian theologians and keepers of the Christian traditions that maybe we’re supposed to have been keeping.

From ancient times Christians kept fasts before they rushed into their feasts. They didn’t take the waiting out of wanting: they knew that a bit of waiting, a bit of preparing, a bit of pondering, would make the feast all the more fun.

Let’s start by rediscovering Advent. The Advent that starts four Sundays before Christmas and takes us slowly and carefully through the Bible’s story of how we got into this pickle we call life, and how God’s plan to join us in it and raise us from it came to pass. It’s all those readings you’ve heard at a traditional Carol Service, but old school, taken slowly, savoured for all they’re worth. Then at Christmas the Great Twelve Days of Feasting can begin.

So, this year, how about Saving Christmas by Keeping Advent? Look for safe ways to buy the presents and order the food. Give some time to writing some personal cards or messages. Then dust down your Bible and look up the stories for yourself. Light a candle for each Sunday. And enjoy the peace. Peace now, as you give Christmas the best chance it can have of going off well; and the promise of a peace that passes our understanding that can surround us come what may.