A few weeks ago, this appeared on my boarding house prayer board, written by one of the children...
Of course this is childish innocence and it did make me giggle. Everyone remembers the endless wait for Christmas morning, wishing the day, and the presents that come with it, would come faster. I was the same as a child, but as I’ve grown older I’ve begun to really dislike the earlier and earlier start to Christmas. I shudder when I see mince pies in October – or was it September this year? – and November Christmas music in shops makes me want to cover my ears and shout ‘LA LA LAAAA’ loudly to block it out, as I run from the establishment to take my custom elsewhere.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘She is, in fact, Scrooge incarnate. Or perhaps the Grinch who stole Christmas. Where does she get her make up from to hide her green skin?’ However, none of this is because I hate Christmas: it’s because I love Advent. Advent is one of my favourite times of the year and it saddens me to see it subsumed in the headlong, glittering rush for Christmas day.
I fully understand why this Christmas mania occurs. In our Northern hemisphere, the period around Christmas is dark. Dark, dreary and cold. Christmas offers light and joy and warmth at a time of year when these seem to have died under a sharp frost, but in trying to artificially manufacture these qualities before their due time, we lose the poignancy and quiet hopefulness of Advent.
Advent, which means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’ particularly of one who is expected, is the time of year when we remember the seemingly endless 400 year wait of the Jewish people for the promised Messiah. For those who trusted in God, they must have been long, dark years. The prophets had ceased to speak and even God Himself seemed to have fallen silent. During Advent, we remember the wait for the Messiah and are reminded that we ourselves must also wait on God. Wait for answers to prayer, wait for sorrow to be replaced by joy, wait for light to shine in the darkness. When we give in to the instant gratification of Christmas sparkle before the fullness of time, we forget how to wait on a God who has promised to shine His light into our darkness and chase it away, if only we will let Him.