Advent already! The season of small pieces of chocolate hidden behind cardboard doors has arrived. It’s amazing how many different sorts of advent calendar there are – themed with everything from pop stars to children’s TV characters, passing through nature scenes and Father Christmases on the way. All of them have the same purpose – to tease us with chocolate and count down to the day of overindulgence.
Before you cast me as Scrooge and start ‘bah humbugging’ me, let me say that I have nothing against advent calendars nor (and those who know me will testify to this) do I have anything against chocolate. I have no problem with combining the two, although I regret that this innovation did not exist when I was a child. All we had was a cardboard cut out nativity scene and little doors to open with a picture behind it. (Cue nostalgic music and perhaps a remake of the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch).
No, my point is actually that the commercial world has made far more of advent than churches have. Christmas goodies have been in the shops for months now, and Christians have been muttering self-righteously under their breath about the commercialisation of Christmas. But it’s such a significant Christian festival that perhaps we should have been trailing it far sooner than we have.
Lighting candles once a week surely does not do justice to the astounding good news that we have to share. Initiatives like Get in the Picture and Roll on Christmas help us to get people ready for the great event. Carol Services play on the nostalgia and sentiment for many and provide the occasion for regular* churchgoers to celebrate and perhaps reflect on the baby in the manger before the big tellyfest and present jamboree push him out of the way.
But surely we can do more to use the period of advent – not just to enable us to get ready for Christmas personally, but to help people to get ready for the big day. I am coining another new word for these inventive advent innovations – adventions…
a big advent calendar outside your church with a new window opened each day?
a big countdown clock counting down the days / hours
a series of adverts taken out in your local paper (if daily) counting down to Christmas Day, perhaps in the style of news stories trailing the big event
buying a load of Fairtrade chocolates and giving one to everyone who comes on your church premises each day leading up to Christmas
I realise that I have only just thought of this myself and sadly we won’t be doing any of these things this year. But I have put a note in my 2o12 diary to consider how we can make the most of advent next year (unless Jesus pre-empts us and the second advent happens first!)
Be blessed, be a blessing
You do know what would have happened if it had been three wise WOMEN instead of men, don’t you? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought baby clothes as gifts!
*once a year is still regular!