Advent is a strange time of the year. Those four weeks before Christmas often rush by in the hurry to get to the big event itself.
For many of us it’s a time of frantic preparations for the season’s celebrations, filled with planning, drawing up endless lists, shopping, buying presents, writing cards, baking, parties, and for some the busy round of carol services and nativity plays.
It can be a hectic time of worrying and overspending, and many may be tired of Christmas by the time it comes round. Surely this can’t be right.
But why should we bother with Advent? In the early church, this season was kept as a period of fasting and repentance. Today, the most popular custom is the keeping of an advent calendar or advent candle, and having an advent wreath with four or five candles has also become a familiar tradition.
These traditions guide us through this season of waiting, hope and expectation, but we often lose sight of the fact that Advent is also a time for reflection and spiritual preparation, a time to be still in the midst of all the busyness and to explore the mystery of God who came into the world.
It’s a time during which we are encouraged to engage with questions of faith, so that we don’t miss the reality and the true meaning of what happened that first Christmas more than 2000 years ago.
So Advent is a time of preparation, but not just for the turkey and the presents, but for celebrating God’s coming into the world in the form of the Christ-child in the stable in Bethlehem. And as we get our homes ready, let’s rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and also welcome Jesus, the light of the world, into our lives.
Services in the Haverhill & Withersfield Benefice
December 19: 7pm Parish Carol Service - Haverhill
December 23: 9.30am Parish Eucharist - Haverhill, 3pm Withersfield Village Carol service
December 24: 5pm Crib/Nativity service - Haverhill, 11.30pm Midnight Mass - Haverhill
Christmas Day: 9.30am Christmas Eucharist -Haverhill, 11.15am Withersfield Christmas Day service
December 30: 9.30am Parish Eucharist - Haverhill, 11.15am Holy Communion – Withersfield, 6pm Healing service -Haverhill
The Rev Manette Crossman,
St Mary’s Church, Haverhill