December 2015 / January 2016

 I had my hair cut in the middle of November and saw a poster saying that the Christmas lights were going on in Torbay on the following Saturday. My hairdresser said that she would be putting up her decorations the following Monday but wasn’t really looking forward to it (though Christmas music was banned until Christmas Eve) and that by the time Christmas comes they are sick of decorations and are glad to have the whole lot down again. I commented about how Advent gets missed out now and that the Christian liturgical calendar suggests we should only start singing carols on Christmas Eve and carry on for a few weeks after that – but by that time everyone else is DONE with Christmas as they have enjoyed at least 6 weeks of it before hand.

I often wonder about why Christmas has become so big and long in its build up. And it is not just commercialism. On a web forum I visitpeople started talking about presents in July… 

There is something about the anticipation that I think catches people’s attention.
The anticipation of celebration, of joy, of food and presents, of songs and carols that hit you deep down and maybe long for Christmas past as well as looking forward to Christmas future. 
There may be so much about it all that can seem to make a valiant attempt to side-line the reason for the season – but Immanuel, God with us – is still there at the heart of it. The love, joy, peace and celebration that I think are the driving force for the avalanche of heart-warming adverts, endless ways to cook turkey and all the trimmings, sparkly outfits and outlandish present suggestions that we are bombarded with (even when it doesn’t seem like it a lot of the time) cannot come without the child in the manger, whether everyone celebrating is aware of it or not.

And it doesn’t matter whether we call this time of year Advent or the pre- Christmas rush or whatever. Actually what we know is that it is a time of remembering what God has done for us, that he has come as one of us. And that is true before Christmas, during Christmas, after Christmas. All year round. 

I often say that we are Easter people – those who live in the light of the resurrection.
But today I have decided that we are Christmas people too – those who live in the light of the Incarnation.
So if you want to start celebrating now – do that!
If you want to wait until Christmas Eve – also good!
If you have a yen for turkey in July (and can find one) – go ahead! 
(The Pilots at Phil’s Church in Hartlepool once had Christmas in July and he dressed up as Father Christmas for them. He did get funny looks driving around in the car though)

IThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Queen has declared that for Narnia “it is always Winter but never Christmas”
For us, living in the knowledge that God has come to us, as one of us, the most precious gift that we can ever own it is sometimes Winter, but always Christmas.
Whether our decorations are up… or not.