So it's time to get ready!
One of the things I love most, and I hope you'll excuse the pun, is the expectancy that is Advent and the journey we make towards Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus, the Christ, looking to something in the past as if it were not and getting the physical and spiritual houses cleaned in readiness.
People often ask me why I look to something that was as if it is to come and wonder whether we're playing at nativity but this, much like the Jewish observance of Passover is not playing games but engaging in an active remembrance of the act. It's what we call 'anamnesis' - something I explain by relating the tale of one of our children who remembers one of the family events as if they were there because the way the story was repeatedly told and the way that it became part of their shared memory and reality.
What is also important is that we remember that although the act may be past and reside in the 'then' the outworking and reality of it is to be found in the 'now' and the 'now that is to come' (the other 'then) and in the 'then' that is eternity!
In so many of the houses around me, as Christmas begins to appear on the horizon (or is it 'Argostide' I wonder) the homes will be cleared of clutter (with it hidden in that one 'do not enter' room) as we make them ready for those special guests.
We too, as Christians, need to clear the rooms in our spiritual house in readiness for the coming of the baby to be born in Bethlehem and, unlike our physical homes, there's no room we can clear it into - everything has to be dealt with - this is why Advent is a penitential (that's purple for some of us!) season for like Lent, it it a time of 'cleaning house' in preparation for the birth and the resurrection respectively.
So here's a nod to those who run their church Advent courses to make sure they're ready and good to go and a reminder for those who(should) attend them to put the dates in your diary as soon as possible.
After all, there's only 71 Days to Christmas ;-)