Too early?!

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From the Manse....

I saw my first decorated and lit Christmas tree in the window of someone's house on 13th November whilst driving through town — is that too early I wonder?

When do you put your decorations up? When does the Christmas period begin for you?

I guess that will depend on many different factors, not least family traditions.

For some, looking forward to Christmas begins in earnest as soon as the John Lewis Christmas advert appears on television for the first time. For others, when they see the Christmas Coca-Cola advert come around more.

The first of December and the opening of the first window on the Advent calendar might be the cue for some, whilst the arrival of the first Christmas card through the post, or the playing of Christmas music in the shops could well be the signal for others.

Purists might argue that we rush with too much unseemly haste to get to Christmas and in doing so, fail to make the most of Advent. Surely Christmas starts as we keep our vigil waiting for midnight on Christmas Eve'?

If we ask when we put our decorations up? When does the Christmas period begin for us, then there is an obvious second question to address — when does it stop and when do we take it all down? Tradition tells us that Twelfth Night marks the end of Christmas but what of the tradition of Candlemas?

In many ways and without wanting to sound too controversial, does it really matter if you start too early and end too late?!

The truth, as has been said many times before, is that Christmas (whenever it begins and ends for you) is a period of time, when we focus on what is in effect a daily reality.

There is a very real sense in which every single day is shot through with the reality of God's incarnation, just as every day is a day of resurrection and the mystery that is Easter.

The good news of "Immanuel, God with us" is as true and brings us as much strength and comfort on a rainy August Bank Holiday Monday, as it does on 25th December.

Christmas is not just for Christmas!

So whenever Christmas begins for you, may you know the peace, love and joy of the Christ child born in our midst.

With love and God Bless

Keith

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