What are we waiting for?

The Adoration of the Magi (1624) Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640

From the 1st to the 24th of December each year, if you were to ask anyone you happened to pass in the street what time of year it is, some will say winter, which of course is correct. A significant number of them, though, would say that it is Christmas; they would be wrong. Very few people seem now to recognise the period of Advent.

Like so much of our language, Advent is derived from a Latin word ‘Adventus’, which means Coming. Essentially it refers to a period of waiting for something to happen, or someone to come. So who is to come? Any practicing Christians will know what and who. I suspect though that there are a number of people who might describe themselves as christian, if not actually a Christian, who would answer Father Christmas, or Christmas day and not Jesus Christ or the birth of Jesus.

It amazes me how many people there are that celebrate Christmas, who do not know what, or who they are celebrating. A friend of mine recently overheard two teenage girls in a shop, discussing the Christmas cards they were buying. On of the girls picked up a card with a scene of Jesus’ Nativity, and a few words from The Bible inside. Her comment was quite telling about what it seems a great number of people know about Christmas today. She said of that Christmas card she had picked up, “Look at this; they’re even bringing religion into Christmas now.” She clearly did not know that without Jesus and Christianity, there would be no such thing as Christmas.

Last year I saw the slogan “Christmas starts with Christ”. It was a slogan that was used by the Church of England itself, I think. What hope is there for the major populace to understand Christmas if even the church presents a message that might be mis-interpreted, even if it is not actually wrong.

The Advent calendar, that now is so often filled with sweets for children (and big kids), actually presents a better starting clue provided it is also clear what the ultimate event is.

I would suggest that Christmas actually starts not with Christ but with Advent. What followed was the greatest adventure the world has ever seen.


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