All around me I'm finding people with Christmas trees in their windows, lights flashing as if to say, 'Stuff Advent' it's Argostide already get with it! Further down the road there are people with houses already sparkling with icicle lights and festoons proclaiming something just twenty-nine days too early!
The season of Advent has apparently been gazumped and as children prepare to remove the chocolate from their December Calendars (the calendars formerly known as 'Advent') we know that we've moved straight into the Christmas season. A season which formerly began on Christmas Eve once upon a time.
Now Christmas gets earlier and earlier and no sooner has Boxing day been and gone than the lights vanish and the trees are discarded or consigned back into garage, shed or attic. The twelve days of Christmas have become thirty-one days and people are already moaning about (and I jest not) 'The Church types trying to hijack the season!'
Losing Advent is one of the biggest losses of the Church year for the journey of preparation of the penitential kind and the clearing up the house that is us in readiness for Jesus, the Christ, God's chosen and anointed one is important and necessary. It's taking away the twice yearly spiritual health check and repair sessions and replacing it with a 'gimme, gimme, gimme' mentality that makes us all just a little worse each year.
So whilst this might sound like a 'bah, humbug' session it's not.
What this is is a call for those who lead churches to move away from the popularist 'let's fill the church building for a month with people who won't hear the Christmas message or understand the truth of Jesus as the salvific and atoning act of Grace and celebrate how popular we can be!'
I don't care about being popular - that was never the call upon us (was it?).
I don't care about the fact that one cleric I have met is boasting of thirty-three carol and Christingle services - a new record.
What I care about is that the same people who cram into their church building won't have a clue about Jesus or His divinity or His sacrifice or the journey from Isaiah to Bethlehem's stable and from there to Calvary.
What I care about is being more than a seasonal attraction alongside Santa's Grotty - after all, if there's one thing we need to be making known, it is this: