There is an audio recording of this blog post for those that prefer it, or you can just carry on reading below, the text is the same.
So the last two weeks I have been writing about my re-discovery of an English Christmas, having not celebrated the season the traditional English way for many years.
My journey began with the Christmas lights displayed each evening on the house opposite where I now live.
They kept nudging me with the thought “Christmas is coming. . . . Christmas is coming . . . Christmas is coming” . . . and this was way back, early in November.
Eventually, slowly, I woke up to the possibilities this presented. I listened to the inner nudging and began to think about what Christmas was going to be for me this year.
If you didn’t read that post then go back and have a look in the archives – it is called “Christmas is coming . . . “
So that was how I determined to walk this path to rediscovering an English Christmas.
I didn’t know where it would take me, I still don’t, but I am going to continue to explore, week by week, and share my musings here with you. Last week I made Christmas puddings if you want to, go back and read the post.
So “what next?” I asked myself.
I have been extremely busy recently preparing for the Big House Scavenger Hunt that our church is running on Saturday. So much so, that the delight (and the wonderful smell) of making the puddings had faded from my mind and almost from my memory before I managed to turn my thinking once again to Christmas.
I really do want to enjoy Christmas, so how is it I forget so easily and let other things of life get in the way?
How was I going to keep reminding myself that I was on this journey when life was so busy with other things?
It was in pondering that question that I began to think about advent calendars. When I was a child they always used to do a good job of building the expectation of the coming day.
Maybe that is one possibility to help me keep this journey in my mind. It is really going to get squashed out otherwise.
Back then, advent calendars were simple card affairs with just a window showing a picture each day – a picture of a Christmas decoration or something like that. We didn’t have the chocolate versions that are so popular today.
I seem to remember that somewhere in amongst the 24 pictures – one for each day in December leading up to Christmas – there was sometimes a donkey or camel or star squeezed in somewhere as a remembrance of the nativity.
It can be like that in this season can’t it? We don’t forget that the real reason for the season is Jesus, but somehow it can easily get squashed in amongst the other traditional things.
There is even a real danger we won’t give it much of our attention and maybe it will even get squashed out altogether.
I don’t want that to happen so how am I going to do this?
I really want to pick up the traditions of an English Christmas again and not opt out as I did while living in Mongolia.
I don’t want to let the traditions of the season squash out Jesus. That is something I want to guard against.
My aim in rediscovering an English Christmas is not to pick up all the trimmings and forget Jesus but to USE the English Christmas to draw me closer to Him.
So – an advent Calendar? Good idea or not?
I decided Yes!
Using it to remember
One of the things we missed in Mongolia was cheese. There was very little good cheese available and so it is something we are enjoying again now back in the UK.
I can almost hear you asking – “What has this got to do with advent calendars?”.
Well, when searching for an advent calendar I found one that includes a different CHEESE variety for each day of advent. Very different from the cardboard picture ones I had as a child but it will be excellent for my purpose now.
Each day, from the 1st December up until Christmas, my husband and I can enjoy the cheeses together, and I can deliberately use it to turn my mind, not to cheese, chocolate or even tradition.
I can, and will use it to remind me that Christmas is coming. I am determined to celebrate, even this early in the season.
But above all I am set on worshipping daily the God whose birth really is the reason for it all.
Do you have a calendar to look at daily this advent?
Whether it is just pictures, whether it is chocolate, cheese or any of the other huge variety available in 2020, or even just reminders you yourself have added to a standard calendar, determine to use it to turn your eyes to what Christmas is really about.
Celebrate each day, don’t just wait until Christmas day. Celebrate not just the baby in the Manger, but worship Jesus daily as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
If you need help to worship, then there is another Carol recording live on the blog this week. It encourages us to Worship Him. Go take a listen – and join in.