Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Christmas so do nothing, Bishop of Reading, Dr Stephen Cottrell says

The Bishop of Reading urges everyone to ask themselves, 'what do I really want for Christmas?

The Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a website for Advent encouraging people to think about the true meaning of the holiday and reflect on the birth of Christ.

In response to the website, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, said he thinks that rushing through Christmas without thinking about the essential meaning is a trap most Christians get caught in. Getting caught up in the traditions and festivities that come along with Christmas make it hard to focus attention on the true purpose.

"Christmas carols would be a good example," he said. "I love singing Christmas carols but it feels like we start singing them in October and a bit of ancient Christian wisdom would be the balance between the feast and the fast."

He said that by starting Christmas earlier and earlier each year, the purpose for Advent gets lost. He described the Christian year as having seasons, each telling a story.

"The gift of the season of Advent is heightening expectation and preparing, not just for welcoming Christ at Christmas but for that day when we will see Him face to face," said the bishop. "When we start rushing over that and singing the carols too quickly we miss all that and what it can bring.

"When we wait, then when Christmas does come you enjoy it all the more. It's not about enjoying Christmas less but heightening your enjoyment by going through this time of expectation."

The bishop also said he thinks that the Church would benefit from entering more deeply into the period of waiting for the coming of Christ.

"I think as a Church we would benefit from getting back in touch with some of those rhythms which are there in our history of which the church year, the Christian calendar was always seen by Christians as one of the primary ways in which you would meditate upon the whole of the life of Christ through the different seasons."

He agreed with the Archbishop's comment, that the greed that has taken the place of patience and reflection has fuelled the present credit crunch and environmental problems. He poses to reflect on 'what do you really want for Christmas?'

"Just stopping to ask 'what do I truly want?' that's something that every human being would benefit from," he said. "What do I really want for Christmas? I think what I would really like is a day of rest with those I love. That's what I really want. And so inviting people to reflect on their heart's desire and what they are really looking for in life, that's at the heart of the season of Advent."

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(Source: RI)