Typically, the month of December is a time of frenzied preparation for Christmas celebrations: children posting their letters to Santa, everyone rushing to send out their heartfelt Christmas greetings, buy and wrap gifts, decorate homes, order party food, and so on. The tragedy is that we spend so much of our lives unprepared for Advent, the hope of God-with-us breaking into our chaotic lives. The story of the first Christmas declares how God breaks into our darkness and suffering – taking on flesh, blood and tears. Advent starts amidst darkness and suffering and chaos, but is a journey into light and hope and new purpose as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Saviour. This glorious event utterly changed the world in love and that is well worth celebrating. The greatest hope of many hearts this year is that Christmas will not again be cancelled but can be saved, so we can celebrate together with family and friends. As a nation, we invest so much into Christmas celebrations – so much of our time, our money and our hope is wrapped up in the tinsel and sparkle that we rely upon to lift our wintry hearts.
Speaking of tinsel and Christmas parties reminds me to use our Christmas crackers this year: seriously folks, I bought a box of crackers 4 years ago which still remains unopened! Oops! In the spirit of “waste not, want not” I am determined to use them this year without fail. Did you know that the Christmas cracker is a very British tradition? It is commonly accepted that Tom Smith of London invented crackers in 1847 as a development of his bon-bon sweets which he sold in a twist of paper (the origins of the traditional sweet-wrapper). It is claimed that he added the “crackle” element when he heard the crackle of a log he had just put on a fire. The other elements of the modern cracker—the gifts, paper hats and jokes—were introduced by Tom Smith’s son, Walter.
Try not to rush around too much this December. Make time to reflect, wait, watch and hope during Advent, and then enjoy happy Christmas celebrations that really go off with a bang!
Reverend Anthea Wickens