Updated: Dec 18, 2022
It happened this week – and remember I am writing this in early
November. That word Advent was suddenly popping up on pew sheets, in the notices, in conversation with others as we began to plan and prepare. By the time most read this, Advent will be in full swing, and we will be on our way to Christmas, opening our Advent calendars and counting down day by day.
I wonder what are the Advent and pre-Christmas traditions you keep in your home and family? Is there an outing to select or collect the tree? When is the date you mix and bake the Christmas cake, and enjoy filling your house with the smell of seasonal spices? How soon do the decorations go up? Are there special places and events you go to year on year, even when you might think everyone has grown out of them, because they have become core to the way you plan your journey towards Christmas?
It's strange isn’t it, how ordered our Christmas preparations can be – and woe betide anyone who messes with them!
It’s particularly strange because the story at the heart of Christmas, and even God’s preparations for Christmas, are full of unexpected events, surprises and down-right inconvenient interruptions!
The simplicity and comfort of Mary’s life was interrupted by the appearance of an angel with a word of promise and challenge – as was Joseph’s! Any hopes or plans for a safe pregnancy and a quiet birth were interrupted by a governmental census – demanding that everyone return to their home-town to be counted. The stillness of a happily inconspicuous town called Bethlehem was interrupted by the cry of a new-born child about whom the world would never stop speaking. A gathering of shepherds, looking for nothing more than an uneventful night-shift counting sheep, was interrupted by a blinding light and a heavenly chorus!
Is that not enough for us to begin to get the message…?
The priest and care worker, Henri Nouwen, (once university professor before his life was interrupted!) wrote that – “In our life……the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions in our projects, but the way in which God moulds our hearts….”
It’s so easy, and so human, to respond to the uninvited events or experiences of life – the big ones and the little ones – as if they were pesky, frustrating inconveniences, or even worse disturbing interruptions, from which we need to free ourselves as soon as possible. Have you been there? I know I have!
I wish for you all an Advent and Christmas which brings ‘comfort and joy’ but also one in which you may be interrupted, inconvenienced even, by something or someone which opens your ears to the song of an angel, and moulds your hearts anew.
Love and Prayers –
Carolyn - The Reverend Carolyn A James