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A Christmas Messsage from Jonathan Smithurst vicar of St Mary's Church Attanborough

Everything seems to have got out of step.

Easter eggs will be on sale from 26 December, Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday cards will soon appear on the shelves, and holiday companies have already started advertising summer holidays bargains!

What’s happening to Christmas?   It began in September, and builds up to a frenzy as people buy the “must-haves” as if there’s no tomorrow - the ‘must give’ gifts, and the ‘must eat’ food,  Advent calendars containing chocolates, and then 25 December, the final day of celebration (did it live up to the hype?) and it’s all over.  The decorations look sad and tired, the gifts not nearly as exciting as they looked when wrapped; but never mind, it’ll soon be …. whatever.

For many people Christmas is over when the Boxing Day sales begins - and the Church gets caught up in it all.  Somehow it must, so as to meet the needs of schools and the wider community for carol services and nativity plays.   But somewhere among the wrapping paper, cards, mince pies, and the satsumas is the question, what happened to the ‘real’ spiritual Christmas? 

Perhaps we need to find new ways of observing the seasons in keeping with their true spiritual meaning.

Traditionally the Church’s year begins on Advent Sunday, the first of the four Sundays of Advent, the Advent season, a time of preparation.  As we open our Advent calendars, perhaps read an Advent book, may we use this time to prepare ourselves both for a celebration of the humble birth of the Christ child and for the coming again of that child as Christ the King.  We are invited to reflect on our own spiritual journey and where we are before Christ who will be our judge.

The Christmas season follows Advent and begins on 25 December.  This is the day for bright lights to shine, for joyful songs to ring out, for all the festivities to get under way for the twelve days of Christmas.  We celebrate after the birth of a child into our families and so it is with the birth of Jesus.  God has fulfilled his promise and now we can give thanks and praise.
Alleluia! Christ is born. He is born indeed, alleluia!

May God bless you all.

Attenborough Church - winter time
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