Advent Calendars have hit the high street in a big way as an attractive by-product of the Christmas shopping bonanza.
But the Christian understanding of Advent touches directly on important things that many Yuletide festivities are designed to help us escape.
In church, Advent reminds us of darkness as a cover for things we fear and are ashamed of.
This darkness holds guilty secrets and desires. It tempts us to explore what we can get away with and not be noticed.
Each of the four Sundays of Advent lights a candle.
Symbolically this shines a light on us as individuals and as a society.
It is the light of truth, and it empowers those who have been made afraid to speak out, because what they know is wrong can now be seen by others.
This is the moment of truth when, in the popular story, a child shouts out, “The emperor has no clothes.”
Everyone then sees the truth about a vain man who loved flattery above everything, and was beguiled into believing, mistakenly, that he was dressed in a sumptuous outfit only he could see.
Advent in church leads to Christmas day and the birth of Jesus Christ, who is described in the Bible as the light of the world.
Jesus is the personification of truth and Advent teaches us that truth does not condemn us; it sets us free to be our better selves.
The power of truth is seen in Jesus Christ as a new-born child who is defenceless and weak, dependent on others.
We all know what it is like to look at the amazing sight of a tiny baby.
Advent reminds us that when we do, the infants of the world who are born into poverty, disease, and conflict say no words, but judge us for any neglect of justice and peace.
If you have an Advent calendar, I hope it will help you, in the light of Jesus Christ, the child of Bethlehem, to judge wisely what your priorities are in home, work and society.
To strive for a future that will ensure your own dignity and that of every human being.
Real Advent Calendar
Every year the Meaningful Chocolate Company produces a slightly different form of Advent Calendar. The Real Advent Calendar is a fun way for parents, grandparents and Godparents to share the Christmas story. The calendar comes with a free 24 page Christmas story activity book designed to be used every day in Advent. This year, the book is illustrated by award winning artist, Alida Massari.
The Real Advent Calendar has a line of the Christmas story behind each window. There is also a Fairtrade chocolate behind each window and it is the only calendar to include a 24-page copy of the Christmas story to be read throughout Advent. This year, there is also an extra chocolate for Christmas Day. The whole calendar is foiled for freshness.
Advent calendars are popular with children and parents because they help explain the meaning of waiting in a fun way. Even adults find them a fun way of connecting with the Christmas story and each one contributes a proportion of the money to charity. Many churches and Christian bookshops will stock the calendars, or they can be ordered directly from www.meaningfulchocolate.co.uk
‘Enlightenment’ A New Glass Sculpture at the Cathedral
‘Enlightenment’: by Amy Cushing is a new glass sculpture never seen before and created especially for Chichester Cathedral. It is a beautiful, delicate, 3 metre column of floating glass that rises up from the font towards the triforium.
The installation is in place now, and will be until 28th February. It is open daily with free entry at Chichester Cathedral.