Archbishop Leo Cushley appeared on BBC Radio Scotland this morning to give his Thought for the Day.
He highlights the forthcoming season of Advent and says that, despite current Covid restrictions, we can embrace the message of joy and hope of the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ.
This weekend a new year begins. No, it’s not that the Government has also moved January 1st – it’s this weekend that we start getting ready for Christmas.
Now, I know every year it seems to start earlier and earlier.
But in fact, preparations for Christmas have always got under way a few weeks before, even prior to the Victorians turning it into the card-swapping, mince-pie chomping, turkey and goose gobbling festival that it has become.
The few weeks before Christmas are usually known as Advent, and they start this Sunday coming. Advent comes from the Latin Adventus, and means the appearing, and refers above all to the appearing of Christ in Bethlehem. So as a word, Advent already has a sense of Christmas about it, although it has gradually over the years turned into a period of preparation, of getting ready.
For Christians, it reinforces just how sacred the time we are preparing for is - and it’s the beginning of a new Liturgical year.
The thing is, though, there has been a bit of mission creep, and Advent has turned into a kind of pre-Christmas Christmas, that looks pretty much like Christmas itself, with the shops and streets all decorated ahead of time, and the get-togethers and celebrations at work or at home taking place sometimes a fair bit in advance of the day itself.
I used not to like that so much, because of course I wanted us to concentrate on the Big Day itself, when it finally arrived on 25 December.
But for a while now I’ve not been so certain about that; and with the intervention of Covid and social distancing, well, my mind is made up. Advent as a pre-Christmas Christmas is fine by me. These days we can do with as much joy and hope and celebration as prudence and social distancing allow.
So, a happy new year this Sunday, a happy pre-Christmas Christmas, and a very Happy Advent to everyone!
Video audio from Good Morning Scotland, broadcast 27 November 2020. Register for Archbishop Cushley's Advent talk this Sunday evening at bit.ly/Unwrapping Advent.