Who doesn't love an Advent calendar and the thrill of opening a new door each day in December?
You may be rewarded with a small Christmas themed picture or if you are fortunate, a chocolate! (Who will admit to eating them all before the month is out? If you do, don't forget to close the door behind you!) There are some ridiculously expensive Advent calendars out there if you can afford them: £1.2 million with a diamond for each day or the cheaper one with bottles of vintage Whisky for a budget price of £10,000! Quite ridiculous.
While the traditions of Advent goes back several centuries, the use of calendars is much more recent - dating back to 19th century Germany, where Christians would use chalk to mark the days or light candles for each day leading up to Christmas, beginning on December 1st. The Advent calendar as we now know it is reputed to have been started in the early 1900's.
Advent is a time of watching, waiting and expectation. It is about contemplating the return of Christ as King and Judge at the end of time. The four last things - Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell - have been the traditional themes for Advent. These themes are so easily avoided as they appear not to sit easy with having a joyful festive atmosphere. However, Advent is about maintaining a watchfulness for the appearing of Christ when darkness is banished by light. The prayer of the early Christians was 'Maranatha' -- 'Our Lord Come' (1 Corinthians 16:22). This remains our prayer which is full of longing, hope, joy and anticipation.
We live in joyful expectation as we contemplate all the promises of God brought to completion in Christ. As you open the doors of your Advent calendar this year may your hearts be raised in expectation of the coming of Christ as Lord and King.
Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus.
Peace and Joy!
Canon Keith Farrow