Advent Firesiders

Saving Advent (2018)

For those of us, like myself, who think that it is better to travel than to arrive, who enjoy waiting, who believe that the essence of improvement is delayed gratification, Advent, along with Lent, is a season which emphasises these ideas.

But I have mentioned before that Advent is in danger of disappearing under the weight of pre-Christmas celebrations which reflects our celebratory impatience; gone are the 12 days after Christmas, linking the birth of Jesus to the adoration of the 'Three Kings', replaced by the 30 days before it, iconically represented by the Advent Calendar which contains a daily ration not of Scripture but of chocolate, beer and even gin!

Aware that we have just about lost Easter, if we want to preserve Advent we can no longer "go against the flow" or we will be drowned. Better, it seems to me, to shorten Advent to the first two weeks of December, ending on the Third Sunday of Advent known traditionally as Gaudete, so that we can celebrate Christmas with our secular friends without feeling guilty, taking part in a build-up which sees Christmas Day as a celebratory climax, something we have been working towards. I am sorry for the 'Three Kings' but they will have to be telescoped into the days between Christmas and New Year, taking their place alongside the Massacre of the Innocents which is already remembered in that period.

Such a compromise will be offensive to some traditionalists but the loss of the season altogether will be much worse. For Christians, Christmas without Advent will be a pale shadow, made shallow by the loss of fasting and waiting. I do not expect that the liturgical authorities will be at all interested in this proposal but in our personal lives we can make this adjustment, at least making a serious attempt to fast, pray and wait for the coming of Jesus before we don a paper hat.