Monday 2 December 2013

'Advent' column in the local paper:

O the joys of Advent! The Christmas Season is soon upon us, carols singing, present buying, Die Hard on the TV, are you ready for the fun? Before we get overwhelmed by the activities, now’s the time to remember what this season is all about. A recent survey by Spark FM showed that most people in Sunderland don’t associate Christmas with Jesus. Churches need to help people make Christmas a truly Christian affair – and this means having more fun – not less!
Advent means ‘arriving’ and anticipates the arrival of the second coming of Christ. Christians celebrate the arrival of the ‘Kingdom of God’; a world of peace, joy and love. This is not something in the far distance, this is for now, and is celebrated every time we bring peace to situations, give joy to our neighbours and show love to others. At Christmas, when we bring peace, joy and love, we are truly celebrating Jesus’ return into our midst.
To really celebrate Christmas, here’s a helpful list: 1) Worship more – find out about services in your local Church. If you have kids, go to a ‘Christingle’ to help them remember what Christmas is truly about. 2) Give more – I don’t mean on presents, I mean to a charity that is bringing the values of the kingdom to people who most need it. Give a sizable amount to a local hospice or Christian Aid. 3) Spend less on things, and spend more time with people – the real joy of Christmas is shared with our families, friends, but especially with those who might be lonely this Christmas. Give someone who needs it a big hug or an unexpected invite to a party!
Advent begins on Sunday Dec 1st, which is also World Aids Day. Why not pop into the Ivy House at 8pm, sing some Advent Carols and raise some money for both Aid’s Charities and Grace House Hospice? Let’s get Jesus back into Christmas by showing and sharing the Joy and love of our risen Christ!
Chris Howson
Sunderland Echo 30th Nov

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