Christmas is coming – but make the most of Advent first, says Sheffield minister

Tis the season… for Advent calendars!I wonder if you are like my kids when they were given their treat-filled countdown calendars?

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 4:45 pm
The chocolate in many advent calendars is long gone before Christmas Day, says the Reverend Jonathan Haigh

They invariably took all the chocolates out and ate them well before the December 25.

They just couldn’t wait!

In the Christian Calendar, Advent is a season to prepare for the feast of Christmas.

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The Reverend Jonathan Haigh

It is used to remind us of God’s promise that he will express his love by coming into the world in Jesus and save it from its brokenness, restoring a relationship with him.

It is a season of anticipation and self-examination; ‘Is my heart ready to receive the greatest gift of love ever bestowed upon the earth?’

There is a sense of impatience in Advent.

The psalmist cries out: “How long, Lord God Almighty”.

“Restore us O God; make your face shine one us that we may be saved”. Psalm 80vs4&7.

There certainly feels like a greater need to get to the feast of Christmas this year, evident in the number of homes already decorated and illuminated for the season.

There is another Advent this year though, in the invention of the vaccines which promise to save us from isolated lifestyles and restore community interaction.

How long do we have to wait for these vaccines so that we can get back to the people we love and the things we love to do?

But this waiting time is important and is for our benefit as everything is done to make sure the vaccines will be safe and deliver what they promise.

It is in our interests to wait and to give the scientists a time to evaluate and make sure all is ready.

Maybe we can re-learn the importance of Advent as being a time of waiting and anticipation.

Taking short cuts to speed up the feasting to come – albeit for five days with limited participants – may deny our opportunity of preparing properly by reflecting on the last year and evaluating what is important to us as we move into a new year.

Look forward to Christmas, but make the most of Advent.

The Reverend Jonathan Haigh is a minister at Victoria Hall Methodist Church, Sheffield city centre, and Greenhill Methodist Church – see greenhillmethodistchurch.com