CHURCHES: Let the celebrations begin!

Fr Roger Caswell
Fr Roger Caswell

At some stage in your life you will have played hide-and-seek. At least three players are needed, but the more there are, the more exciting the game.

If you have been chosen to be ‘it’, the sooner you reach the number you have to count to, the better.

As you count, the excitement mounts. And eventually you can shout ‘Ready or not, here I come!’

You may get bored if it takes a long time to locate all the players – I remember once hiding in a dark, hot cupboard for what seemed hours, but was probably only a few minutes.

Eventually everyone is found, and the next round of the game can begin – or maybe there will be something even more enjoyable to do, like finding there is party food ready to be eaten.

Waiting – that’s the hard part of the game, both for the one who is searching, and for those who have to stay quiet and still until they are found.

The weeks leading up to Christmas are days of waiting. In the church we call these days of waiting the season of Advent. Advent is a word which means ‘coming close’.

What is coming closer every day as the days of Advent pass is our celebration of the birth of Jesus.

This year Advent begins on December 3. So it lasts for 22 days – which may seem a long time, but how quickly the days pass.

For many people there is so much to prepare, so much to get ready and think about, that the object of our celebration can get forgotten, overlooked.

All the activity can make Christmas a stressful time rather than something to be celebrated and enjoyed.

And if we can’t celebrate and enjoy the anniversary of the birth of God’s Son, then what can we enjoy?

But just as the hide-and-seek game involves being quiet and content to wait, so we need to make time in these days of Advent to do the same.

And if we do, we will understand just a bit more of the love of God who gave his Son to be born into the world – and find that the celebration we enter into as we celebrate his birth is more joyful than we could imagine.

Most of the world into which Jesus was born knew nothing of his coming. But on the day of that birth and at every celebration of Christmas since then God has said, if you care to listen, ‘Ready or not, here I come’.

We must take time to prepare – and be ready to celebrate the coming of God’s Son.

Fr Roger Caswell, Vicar of St Mary’s

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Upcoming events

• Worthing Salvation Army Carol Concert at Littlehampton Baptist Church, Fitzalan Road, in aid of RNLI, on Friday, December 1, at 7.30pm.

• Littlehampton Quakers Coffee morning on Saturday, December 2, from 10.30am to midday at Friends Meeting House, Church Street, with proceeds going to Amnesty International. Live Christmas music and an opportunity to make a Santa’s sleigh.

• The Churches Together United Advent Service, celebrating the start of the Church’s New Year and the beginning of the Christmas Story, takes place on Sunday, December 3, at 6.30pm at Parkside Evangelical Church in St Flora’s Road, Littlehampton.

• Pantomime – Aladdin on Saturday, December 9, at 3pm in Littlehampton Baptist Church, Fitzalan Road.

• The Barn Choir Christmas Concert on Monday, December 11am, at 7.30pm at the Franciscan Convent, East Street, Littlehampton. Retiring collection for the Rohingya refugees.