Monday, 2 December 2013

I remember going round a local shopping centre a couple of years back. The tinsel was out, the fake Christmas trees were up. Spray snow adorned shop windows. On advertising boards was the slogan:

love life. love gifts. love christmas.
love life. love style. love christmas.
Christmas, it’s in the bag.

It got me thinking - when does Christmas start?

For our department stores it seems to get earlier each year - this year I started to see ‘Christmas stuff’ out on shelves and the off Christmas tune being played in the late Summer. We start to see Christmas ads on the TV in mid Autumn.  Our retailers are out of step with their customers, because for many, the season starts on December 1st.

It’s at the beginning of December that the decorations come out of the attic and many start writing cards and family newsletters. Let’s not let the High Street set the pace.

For the Church, our preparations begin on Advent Sunday - this year 1st December. That’s when we light the first candle on the Advent Wreath and when we start to think about Jesus Christ's (from where Christmas get’s it’s name) first coming - His birth in Bethlehem - but also His return.

Advent Sunday marks the start of our preparations for Christmas - a celebration that continues right through December and January until the Feast of Candlemas - at the beginning of February!

Christmas doesn’t start in the Autumn. It isn’t in the bag. It begins and ends with Christ. But many forget that.

According to recent research just 12% of our nation know the Nativity story in any detail and more that one third of our children do not know whose birth we are celebrating. 51% say that the birth of Jesus is not relevant to their Christmas celebrations.

We need to revisit what we are doing on 25th December 2013.  We need to remember that Christmas begins with Christ.

Each one of you are a jigsaw piece that can help make this picture clearer.  Why not take the time and trouble to make sure that your neighbours, family and friends are not some of those statistics above.  Why not invite them to our Advent course looking at the Christmas story afresh or to a Christmas service to help them to get it all into place. So yes, do

love life. love gifts. love christmas.
love life. love style. love christmas.
Christmas, it’s in the bag.

but let’s help each other remember that

Christmas begins with Christ.