Monthly Letter to the Parish - December 2017
Amazon and a Really Traditional Christmas
Thanks to suppliers such as Amazon we can now, at the press of a button, have goods delivered to our doorstep within hours of ordering them - Christmas shopping may never be the same again. In this, and in other ways, we now often find ourselves waiting less than may have been the case some years ago. This can encourage a mindset that suggests waiting is something undesirable and to be avoided whenever possible. The pressure on many commercial firms to maximise their sales for the Christmas period has certainly led to their publicity hitting us by the beginning of November.
However, isn't there something to be said for the anticipation that waiting involves? The value of waiting was a key part of the traditional Christmas period (not the mostly Victorian version of Christmas that is often described as 'traditional') that goes back to the early centuries AD. The weeks immediately before Christmas were treated as a time of prayerful preparation for the celebration that was to follow: this was, and still is, described as the season of Advent. This may seem a bit 'killjoy' during a period that is now a major partying time, but no - it was the preface to a prolonged celebration of the birth of Christ, hence the twelve days of Christmas. Even when these twelve days are over the Christmas celebration goes on with the period of Epiphany up to the beginning of February.
The constraints of modern life make it difficult to celebrate Christmas in this way, but there may well be benefit in finding just a few minutes each day during Advent (starts on December 3rd) to take the mind away from the concerns of the moment, and to quietly reflect on the deeper significance of the season, and what it might mean to us individually. If it is difficult to find space to do this, your parish church offers a place where local people have been finding peace and inspiration for many centuries - please feel free to continue that tradition.
I wish you a joyful Christmas.