Christmas is coming!
That's a phrase we hear increasingly early these days. Some shops even seem to compete to see who can have their Christmas displays up in the windows first. But by the time you read this it will finally be true.
On 1" December begins the season of Advent; the time of preparation for Christmas. Some of you will have advent calendars counting down the days one by one, possibly rewarding you with a chocolate or sweet each time. Perhaps you light a candle, or four different candles, one for each week. However we do it, the goat is the same: to build up the anticipation as Christmas ~els closer, to get in the mood, so that when the 25th (or 241 for some) arrives, we are ready for it.
But for Christians the season of Advent is not only intended to prepare us only for Christmas, it is a time to reflect on the future. Many of the famous stories Jesus told - the parables - encourage us to be more loving towards those with whom we share this planet, however different from us they may be. But Jesus spent almost as much of his time challenging his followers to live as if the end might come any day. How ready are we?
I've seen a lot of advertising recently which seems to boil down to one message - don·t have any regrets. Don't die wondering. Advent has the same message, but while the former is about adventures and experiences. this is about something more personal. Have we done all we need to be at peace with God and those around us? Or is there something we know we need to do, but have.kept putting off? Are there relationships we need to repair, people to visit, apologies to give or accept? Are there habits we've fallen into that are harming us or others?
Advent can be hard work. There are presents to think of and buy, meals to prepare, houses to decorate. But we do·it so that when Christmas finally arrives we are ready and can celebrate with no regrets. Maybe this year it's also time to finally do that other hard work. Then whatever ties ahead of us, we can face it ready and without regrets.
Gtory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to all humanity, on whom God's favour rests.
That was the message of the angels to the shepherds in the hills outside Bethlehem 2000 years ago. May each of us know more of that peace this Christmas.
With every blessing
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