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

Father Tom ponders …… ‘It’s beginning to feel a bit like Christmas': already!

Well, many of the shops have lost no time this year with window displays, canned music and Christmas goodies waiting to be snapped up by the middle of November. Last year I was wished a ‘Merry Christmas’ by the firm we bought our Christmas tree from. When I protested that it was still November and not even close to Christmas, the man on the end of the ‘phone replied, ‘I just like to get in early.’

The short four weeks of Advent is one of my favourite seasons in the Church’s calendar; indeed, the Church’s New Year begins on Advent Sunday. It is a time of beautiful readings from Scripture and Advent carols: all eagerly looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, the Word made flesh.

All too often Advent passes by with us taking little notice because we, like the great majority, get caught up in the shopping, sending and receiving of cards and all that goes into making Christmas special. Equally our attention will be drawn away from this season of joy when disaster strikes either at home or abroad. A fury of activity and noise takes over until almost the last minute when the hush of the Midnight Mass begins and we stop to sing the song of the angels and marvel at the manger scene prepared once more.

For an hour or so we enter into the realm of eternity and are caught up in the wonder of Christ’s birth at Bethlehem. The slow walk home after church with lights twinkling and children desperate to wake up and find that once again ‘Father Christmas’ has called continues this delight. But it is true that somewhere there will be the sound of someone weeping, someone in pain and someone frightened.

Why leave the wait for the hush of Christmas so late? Why is it that as Christians we are very good at reminding each other of the need to prepare by prayer and worship and never take our own advice? At this moment it may be that your conscience is in a frenzy because of a lack of recollection; your prayer life lacking because of the absence of prayer; your life is too hectic because, for the sake of five minutes, you just can’t stand still and listen and think.

Let us all try to make a special time each day just for ourselves. A time to listen out for the angels’ song, a time to mourn and be sad for those who are sorrowful. May we all find time for the sense of expectation as we wait in hope for the coming of Christ at the end of time when all the noise we shall hear is the sweet music of eternity.

May the season of Advent and the birth of the Son of God bring you and those you love happiness and peace. And when you finally hear the hush of Christmas you will know that the Saviour has truly come into your heart once more.

With my love and prayers,