As many of you know, I reached the ripe old age of sixty during late October and I wanted to thank you for your generous gift. Being sixty gives me the perfect excuse for officially becoming a grumpy old man. I must confess that there is little I enjoy more than a good old moan and my poor wife is often the recipient of my views. We had a rule in our house when I was young that we never mentioned Christmas until bonfire night was well behind us, we weren’t allowed to put any Christmas records on the gramophone until Christmas Eve. My brother and I would go to bed and the house would be decorated when we arose on Christmas Day.
One of my neighbours already have their outside lights up and have done for a fortnight, we went shopping today, not “Christmas shopping” I hasten to add, simply a routine mooch around a garden centre and the place has turned into a winter wonderland already with an entire area turned over to a vast choice of fancy lights, I recognise that this is the best time to sell such merchandise, but if we are not careful, we embrace Christmas far too soon and completely forget Advent. I would appeal to you to make the best use of the season of Advent in preparing yourself for God, there are lent groups and increasingly people read books during advent to prepare for the journey to the manger. Let us make a point of using Advent and not let it be consumed by Christmas, far too soon.
I get irritated when I turn on the breakfast news on the telly to see some giddy presenter saying, “now Christmas is over!!” I want to scream at my TV “no it isn’t you idiot, it has only just begun!” the season of Christmas does not run from December 1st until we are tucked up in bed over fed and filmed out on Christmas night, Christmas is for the twelve days from Christmas Eve to twelfth night. I’m not preaching on December 30th this year, I will be taking leave, but I love to pick the Christmas Carol’s we didn’t sing at the Carol Service, some of the less familiar or new carols, it is possibly the one legitimate Sunday in the year when it is actually Christmas and we should savour the twelve days of embracing the incarnation of God.
When we reach Twelfth Night, the season of Christmas is still not over, we enter Epiphany, this is not simply a day when we remember the coming of the Kings, Magi, Wise men or visitors from the East, whatever we want to call them, Epiphany is about us understanding something of paramount importance to us all. Christmas leads us right up to Candlemas, the celebration of Jesus being presented at the temple, this is on the 2 nd February 2019, so go on, be grumpy, help people to see the season, rather than just one day!