This is the text of my latest Credo column for the Newark Advertiser which appeared in this week’s edition
Advent is at hand, which means Christmas can’t be far away.
It’s easy to miss out the Advent season in the headlong rush towards the 25th of December. I guess most people think of Advent only as the time when you open the doors of your calendar and either eat a chocolate or (for the more traditional among us) look at a picture, or even read a part of the Christmas story from the Bible. And as soon as Advent Sunday arrives we’re straight into Noddy Holder bawling ‘It’s Chriiiiiiiistmaaaas’, we’re singing Christmas Carols and in Newark we’re switching on the Christmas lights.
Now I love Christmas as much as the next person, if not more. But Advent itself has a great deal to offer and it’s a shame to miss out on that.
Advent means ‘coming’ and of course Christians are looking forward to remembering at Christmas the arrival of someone very special, Jesus Christ. During the Advent season we take the time to think about the importance of that amazing event in the Middle East two thousand years ago. One of the things we do to help us look ahead and prepare for Christmas is to sing Advent Carols – these are some of my favourite hymns of all and it’s a shame they aren’t better known. Here are some of the words:
‘Come thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free’
‘Hark the glad sound the Saviour comes, the Saviour promised long’
‘People, look east, and sing today: love the Lord is on the way’
Not as well-known as Away in a Manger or Silent Night but all beautiful songs – if they aren’t familiar to you why not look them up and have a listen on the internet.
Even two thousand years ago Jesus, the Saviour, the Lord was indeed ‘long-expected’. God’s people had been expecting the arrival of someone to set them right with God for hundreds of years. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell stories of wonderful happenings at the time of Jesus’ birth, involving angels and guiding stars, signifying the special nature of this baby. And the baby grew up and showed, through what he said and did, just how special he was. So special he changed the world for ever.
This Advent why not take a little time out from all the Christmas preparations to think about the significance of what it is that’s coming at Christmas? Attending a service at one of the local churches might be a good way of doing that. Remember that, just like dogs, churches aren’t just for Christmas either.