A chrismas list

It is most odd to me that many people often say, ‘O vicar, this is your Busy Time’.  As if I have the rest of the year off.  The more enlightened might mention something about Easter as well.  I’ve never come up with a suitable retort and have resigned myself to the benign ‘yes there is a lot to do’.  Or perhaps the more risqué ‘it is the Silly Season’.  Then there is the last straw answer – ‘Well people only seem to want two things at this time of year, Beer and God, too much of either is a bad thing’.  As I look around at others this year I find myself bemused at this suggestion that it is my busy time.  Everyone is busy!!  And most people are busier than I am.  I’ve always been relatively laid back – some might say horizontal at times.  But I do find myself stepping back from the mad rush towards the 25th December.  It is of course still Advent, that strange period of time before Christmas through which many want to rush headlong towards the day itself.  A time for preparation – but also a time for fasting before the feast, for repentance and reflection.  A time to make ready for Christmas and to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.  What then does it mean to be ‘prepared’ for Christmas?  Advent is ultimately a time for reflection on the past and the yet to come, so Dickens’ a Christmas Carol should really be renamed an Advent Carol.  To be prepared perhaps like the five wise bridesmaids who trimmed their lamps.  It might be useful to think about exactly what it is we are preparing for this Christmas, and the key question rather than how should I prepare for Christmas is:  ‘What is Christmas preparing us for?’  In preparation therefore this Advent for Christmas:  A list.


Listening to endless replays of 70’s classics, or not so classic songs e.g. Slade, The Pogues

There are many trials and tribulations along any journey to be endured

Shopping for gifts, the waiting and frustration.  Queue’s at the checkout.

The more adventurous we are on our journey, the more we appreciate the destination.  We didn’t expect a journey in the company of Jesus to be an easy ride?

Writing and Sending Cards

Don’t loose touch with those dear to us – just because they are out of sight…

The Advent Calendar and Advent Wreath

Looking forward, looking backward, reflecting on where we have been and where we are going.  Waiting in patience is a virtue not to be underestimated.

School Nativity Play(s), Pantomime, TV, Entertainment – The Christmas Film – Carol Services.

We are all story tellers, whether we think we are or not, the stories we tell help us to understand who we are.

The all important Food.  The turkey or Goose, Mulled Wine and Mince Pies

When we prepare food for others,  we entertain Angels unaware.  

Tidy the house for guests

Putting our mind in order is important to, spiritually we often need to ‘tidy up’.

Preparing gifts.

Are we ready though, this Christmas to receive the ultimate gift?

So busy time or not?,  maybe it should be, busy preparing for what Christmas brings home to us each year – the kingdom.  As the T-Shirt says:  Look busy, Jesus is coming

Locusts and Wild Honey for Christmas Dinner?

John the Baptist, the voice of one crying in the wilderness:  Prepare the way of the Lord.  He’s a strange character – Locusts and Wild Honey!  What a diet.  Relationships between many things are changing.  This is especially noticeable at Christmas.  The relationship between the winter festival and the celebration of Christmas for example.  Cadbury have claimed the rights to Advent Purple – we won’t be paying royalties!!  As the climax of the consumer year draws in we watched retailers jumping upon another bandwagon – Black Friday – in an attempt to get shoppers spending a few days earlier and perhaps just a little bit more.  Governments suggesting that a good retail season might stimulate our economy – then the words of caution – was it not such an economy based upon cheap credit that got us into this mess in the first place?

And all the while we are all expected to live up to the image of a ‘proper Christmas’.  Which is what exactly? The Dickensian dream?  A small child with his or her nose pressed to the frosted toy shop window dreaming of the train set or rocking horse contained within? I’m not sure that ever actually existed.   And still there is the voice crying out in the wilderness.  Will it ever have a home?  John ate Locusts and Wild Honey?  What about our Christmas meal?  The traditional Christmas lunch and traditional Christmas family row in the afternoon.  Why is this?  Is it perhaps that few families actually sit down to eat a meal together the rest of the year and those few occasions become stressful?

Our relationship with food changes when we move from eating socially to merely eating to fuel our bodies.  Food is one of the great Christmas commodities, but lately i’m not sure I can remember an advert for food that didn’t focus on the price, how cheap it was, rather than the good it might do us or where it came from or what was in it even.  We are being sold a dream, not food.

So what will you be eating?  Locusts and wild Honey?  I hear deep fried locusts are great and wild Honey is better for us – especially local honey.  But there might not be a rush on these this Christmas!

A friend said once “There is little that I do that does not involve food in some way”  Great sentiment.  To elevate the nourishment of our bodies and soul to the centre of everything.  It becomes a peg to hang the rest of life on.  We meet, share a meal and feed not only our bodies, but our minds and others as well.  When we eat in isolation we just visit the fuel pump.  Thomas Moore writing in Resurgence wrote: “Food makes community at a profound spiritual level – eating together is communion, a commingling of our souls.”  No wonder that many writings of Jesus are set around a meal table or with food involved somewhere – food was a social thing.  And in our Eucharist we focus in at the heart of the matter – the bread and the wine.  Have we neglected some of the preparation though?  Do we come as individuals or do we come to receive that together as if we are one community – sitting down to Christmas dinner. Prepare the meal together, prepare for the meal together – not at the last minute, but as if it is the last meal we will ever share together.  Restore the relationship between Christmas and our community and we might not be just another voice crying in the wilderness.

Drawing on an earlier writing Relations

Advent by British Gas

I don’t suggest you phone them just to check this, I wish I had recorded it. I was sorting out sunday’s sermon at the same time as trying to convince British Gas that we exist (so I can quickly change to a green supplier!!)

‘Cheesy music’

Thanks for waiting, one of our operators will be with you shortly’

‘Cheesy music’

None of ‘our’ power stations are on the ‘dirty 30’ list

‘Cheesy music’

Did you know that British Gas has an offshore wind-farm program to supply green electricity to the UK?

‘Cheesy Music’

Thanks for waiting, Jesus will be with you shortly…

(well there is probably more chance of this than an operator)