Advent Hope and Christmas Faith

I just wrote the following for my December/January church newsletter …


It’s mid-November and I’m writing something to cover all the way through January. Having just seen the end of Debbie’s miserable ear infection I’m not quite thinking of Christmas yet.


But others are, and have been planning for months. The shops have been working out their campaigns, the record companies have been recording wretched Christmas singles, et cetera. And blow me down if Debbie hasn’t announced that she has bought all her presents.


Me, well, I’ve ordered Rebekah’s main present and bought her a stocking-filler; I’ve bought Mark’s main present and I have a couple of small things so far for my lovely wife. But the rest of it – I haven’t a clue.


I know I’m far from unique: Christmas shoppers seem to be divided between those who start buying in the January sales and those who rush around frantically on Christmas Eve.


Yet I believe that the Christmas faith is one that calls us to look forward in a far greater and deeper way. Christmas is not only a time to cast our minds back two thousand years to the miracle of God taking on human flesh in obscurity and poverty, revolutionary as that is.


Let me put it like this: I don’t suppose for one moment that when Slade wrote ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ they had theology in mind, but the line, ‘Look to the future now, it’s only just begun’ is exactly what the Christmas faith is all about. The coming of Christ has changed everything and the future has begun, the future which is God’s kingdom.


That’s why we begin Advent four Sundays before Christmas with the theme of the Advent Hope. We are not only looking back to the incarnation of Christ, we are looking forward to his coming to bring the fulness of God’s kingdom.


In the meantime we live in the tension between the ‘now’ that is full of pain and sin and the ‘future’ which has begun with God’s forgiveness, healing and justice. Our challenge is to live the Advent Hope, to live under the joyful reign of God’s Kingdom in the midst of the worst this world offers.


To do that is to live the Christmas faith.

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