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By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts

Is the Church losing the adventure of Christmas? thoughts on how Advent relates to the needs of the world.

Halloween last week, Guy Fawkes this week, Remembrance Sunday today, 11th November! Each a festival, each important in their own right, but not to everyone. Each can go with a bang, fireworks for the first two – helped along by pressure from the sellers, and gun shots for the third. How do you rate them in order of importance?
Now add Christmas - to come – Christmas crackers!
Goodness, you couldn’t fail to know Christmas is coming!
How early can those that make money out of Christmas, get to telling us to
be in early, to buy their so called Christmas specials.
Christmas is coming – the countdown – the advent calendar - got yours yet? Remember when, in younger days, we made our own. Now you can spend a week’s pay or more on one that comes with the goods and what a choice – the Beauty Advent Calendar, the Beer and Wine Advent Calendar, the Food
Advent Calendar, the Clothes Advent Calendar, but wait there’s more!
High jacked again by the commercial world.
The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin adventurus meaning about to happen, made up from venire – about to come, and advenire –to come.
(courtesy of Google)

So Advent is a time for us to look forward and meditate on what is to come.
You will know the excitement of the countdown to Christmas! If you have children about you the excitement is still there, ‘can’t wait for Christmas’ - perhaps more so because of the commercialisation thrown continually at us – ‘I want that!’
But the real ADVENT?
Advent, to the Christian, is certainly a time of anticipation during the countdown to the celebration of the birth of Christ.
But it is more than that, it is in the remembering and the meditation of the miracle of Christmas that Christmas can be fully understood and appreciated.
It is in the light of Christmas that our Christian life makes any sense.
Advent is the time between the fulfilled promise of Christ’s coming, his first
coming, and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise of his second coming.
Karl Barth wrote these words: “Unfulfilled promise and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.”
The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, he is here, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent.
“I can’t wait for Christmas!” Many a young one, and not so young one has said this, I think we all remember having said that at some time. But as we, as I get older, I feel something of the Christmas feeling, something of the atmosphere of Christmas is diminishing.
Is this just an old fellow’s feeling? Has Christmas been high jacked by commercialism? Spending more than is necessary on ourselves and family does not make Christmas.
Is the Church losing the adventure of Christmas? Is it because there are fewer children, hence no pageant with the Sunday School singing and playing out the Christmas story? No children – no pageant! Something lost. Or are we lost?
In the meantime, while we wait, while we hope, the world keeps turning, and millions of not-so-privileged people wait and hope for something better in the lives they live. But some cannot wait, they are tired of waiting so they walk away, walk in hope. Walk to escape the mess of their country, a country
of no hope, with its inequalities, its brutalities, and its oppression.
So they walk in hope toward another country they know little about, except it’s said there is freedom there. Though in many cases that country doesn’t want them and they could end up in in camps behind wire, degraded again, perhaps slightly better off, perhaps with shelter and food, but no job no freedom, little hope, possibly even the threat of being sent back to where they came from. Those that are being turned away knowing and believing the Christmas story must feel let down; after all, this is the season of goodwill! Let us not forget.
And this Remembrance Sunday let us not forget – those that fought and gave their lives – those that fought and suffered for the rest of their lives - those who were locked up or forced to labour even to lose their life because their conscience told them to not go to war, and not forgetting the many at home
who suffered – some for years following.
The beneficiaries of war are the investors, and the manufacturers of missiles, armaments, and machines of war.
So this Advent Season look forward in hope and joy, but also do -
Remember those who are struggling to live a life of peace and joy.
Remember those who are turned away because ‘there is no room.’
Remember those who strive to help the suffering ones.
Remember those who are peace-makers.
Remember Christ this Christmas, and always.
Remember Jesus promised us peace and joy.
Remember goodwill to all!
Remember to travel through Advent and through the year in faith.
Gordon Abernethy