When I was the Vicar of Whitton, it was a matter of no small annoyance that Card Factory would stock ‘Christmas Calendars’ [sic] in late August. This isn’t a whinge about Christmas retail starting too soon (though late August does seem a little premature), but more about the merciless culling of a beautiful and meaningful season – Advent.

Advent (from ‘adventus’: coming) is a solemn season of preparation when Christians ready themselves for the incarnation (God made human), the central theme of Christmas. Some people prepare by erecting their Nordmann Pine in early November, Christians by gathering and reflecting on spiritual matters (and some Christians by erecting their Nordmann Pines in November too, I don’t doubt).

Advent is a season steeped in expectation (as well as Strictly and ‘Sleb), which, in Christian terms, refers to the approaching birth of Jesus Christ in the context of the refugee journey of his unmarried mother and her partner; Jesus, our Prince of Peace, the hope of the world in this tiny child.

At St Mary with St Alban’s this year, we are holding Advent courses, Advent Carol Services, and additional times of prayer and we wait with eager anticipation for the arrival of the wonderful (and not inconsiderable) array of Christmas Services. All these seasonal events are open to all, you will be very welcome, and I look forward to meeting you. It’s all on the website!

I wish you all (and the lovely staff at Card Factory) a holy Advent, a glorious Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Fr David