Monday, 18 December 2006

The Collect for Advent: my By the Way column for The Medicine Hat News on Saturday, December 16th.

“Next year,” I resolve, “I’m going to start with my Christmas cards in September!” But I never do. And then at this time of year there always comes the jolly “Are you ready for Christmas?” greeting from those vexatious and provocative people who are. At which point, rather than sugar-plums, there rise up in my head nasty retorts and images of all the unfinished Christmas things that await me. Sigh.

According to The Book of Common Prayer there is a prayer to be prayed every day throughout the season of Advent to help people like you and me to be ready for Christmas. That prayer goes like this:
Almighty God,
give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness
and put upon us the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life
in which thy Son Jesus Christ
came to visit us in great humility,
that in the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty
to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who liveth and reigneth
with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
It’s interesting that there is nothing in that prayer about Christmas baking, lights, shopping, wrapping or even a manger. Pray and act on it each day between now and Christmas, however, and we could cast away such works of darkness as our unkind thoughts and actions towards those who vex and provoke us. As we put our Christmas lights up, we could be putting spiritually protective armour of light on. We’d not only be ready for this Christmas, but also for the day when Jesus comes again in his glorious majesty and for the life immortal which will be rather like the best Christmas ever, only for ever. Amen.