Christmas gets earlier each year – a common complaint. Barely has summer finished and the Christmas adverts start appearing. Shop early, they say; well there’s early and early.
It always brings a groan when shops and restaurants are gearing up for Christmas and we are in All Saints and Remembrance. Advent, the season of preparation, has almost disappeared; or has preparation changed without us noticing?
During the first week of November, our daily morning Gospel readings came from St Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth. So, perhaps we shouldn’t moan too much for we lead the way. For centuries the church has worked to a calendar. From December to June we follow the Jesus story from his birth, through to his death; resurrection and ascension. This gives us a framework for life, for prayer and for study. This framework enables us to celebrate and work together as a community; all remembering the same event at the same time. Life and death; triumph and failure; forgiveness and the need to forgive: all these are part of daily living. We don’t store them up for one special day.
These key Gospel events (birth, death and resurrection) in particular may speak to us at any time. So perhaps a brief return to Christmas here at the beginning of November is helpful after all; even on the High Street. Shop early for Christmas by all means; and at the same time contemplate the story of the baby in the manger while you can. Be honest, come Christmas Day we are usually too tired, or too busy (or both) to do much thinking.
Rev’d Philip Payne
The Notice Sheet for 19 November 2023 can be found here