Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man

Father Tom ponders …. It will be Christmas before you know it!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a shop decorated for Christmas on 7th November. Then again, by the First Sunday of Advent almost everyone else will have joined the club. In some ways I feel a bit of a hypocrite. How I used to nag my mum as a boy to let us put the decorations up. Today I put them up on Christmas Eve; enjoying the smell of the tree, holly and ivy, the bright lights and looking at the Christmas cards. Sadly, by Boxing Day, I am already looking forward to putting it all away. I don’t, incidentally, I wait until Epiphany.

As I have got older, while looking forward to Christmas, I also long with a passion for the beautiful season of Advent. The beginning of a new year in the Church’s calendar; the poetry of the readings and hymns and carols; that longing for Christ to come again in glory. I enjoy seeing our church dressed in purple, a sign of preparation, while knowing that when the hush of Christmas comes it will be resplendent with colour and ablaze with light.

For priest and people alike, the season of Advent passes us by before we know it. We are busily caught up in the shopping, sending and receiving of cards and all that goes into making Christmas special. Knowing this, what preparations during Advent are you going to do that is special for your soul? Will you allow yourself time to sit and be still in the presence of God – in church, in the garden or on the promenade if it is not too cold? Will you allow yourself some space to read some more from the prophets Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah and Micah who will be the focus of our first reading at Sundays’ masses: finding out more about them and the time in which they lived? Will you allow yourself the opportunity to remind yourself that when you receive Holy Communion a veil is parted, and you are given a moment to glimpse eternity?

Let us all try to make a special time each day just for ourselves. A moment to remind ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas: that in a wonderful moment in time, God himself was revealed in a helpless, beautiful baby. Above all may the season of Advent and the birth of the Son of God bring you and those you love happiness and peace.

With my love and prayers,