Mat’s December Letter

A member of St Matthew’s told me that they had finished writing their Christmas cards. Now that is organised. On the internet I discover that there are Christmas preparation lists which include; update Christmas card list, make cards for family and friends, finish(??!!) making homemade gifts, shortbread and Christmas biscuits etc. etc. So much to do and only 4 weeks to do it! Are you preparing? If so are you preparing spiritually too?

Advent is intended as a time of preparation, a period for corporate and self reflection. It encourages us to honestly assess our lives, our values and our priorities before God. Advent draws us to see the world as God sees it; and ourselves as God sees us. At least it does if we pause long enough to allow it.

In the centuries before Jesus was born God’s people ached and longed for God to come. The ‘godly’ were realistic about their need of God’s salvation because they were realistic about the world in which they were living.

I had a half Sunday off at the end of November and went to the Cinema in Cabot Circus. Walking through that shopping centre I was aware of the thousands of people who are lost, but probably don’t know that they are. I was aware that for many Christmas is a time of spending and excess. For most I suspect a hollow one, enjoyable though it may seem at the time. And yet this was the world into which God sent his Son as a baby. As I reflected on this I realised that I will only begin to understand the full wonder of Jesus’ coming if I also acknowledge the lost-ness of the world and our need of God’s love and grace.

Christmas is indeed a great time of celebration and rejoicing, which is good and right. It is a festival after all. However we will better understand the coming of Jesus, the light of the world, if we give ourselves space to be aware of the darkness. This is not to depress us but rather to inspire us to truly wonder at the light of the world come amongst us and witness to Him. I suspect that I will enjoy Christmas more if I prepare for it spiritually as well as practically. How will you prepare for Christmas?

Mat

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