As the years go by, putting the ‘Christ’ back into Christmas becomes more and more of a crusade for me.
This year, it’s started earlier, only this time I can blame my wife.
From the 1st December, countless doors will be flung open in homes across the western world, doors that reveal pictures, gifts and chocolate. That’s right, it’s Advent (meaning the coming of Christ into the world) and it’s time to break out the Advent calendars.
The tradition of Advent calendars began in Germany, where the Lutherans would count down the days until Christmas, using an Advent Clock (of 24 candles) – each day marking a step closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birthday; the coming of the Messiah.
In the early 20th century, the original Advent Clock transformed into printed calendars with a door for each day, behind which was a picture of a scene or event from the story of Jesus’ birth. As time has passed, gifts began to appear behind the doors, to remind us that Jesus’ is God’s greatest gift to us. By the 1950s this had come to include chocolate and while chocolate is the modern favourite, today’s consumer can find anything from Harrods glass decorations to Star Wars Lego!
Sadly, for many, the original message has been lost. We buy the calendars and receive a gift or a treat from behind each door. But do we remember why?
Thanks to the internet, here’s a couple of online Advent calendars that convey the Christian message (and, of course, a few freebies).
I think they’re a great modern interpretation of the original thought behind the Advent Calendar, and they are cool gifts in themselves, but Rachel challenged me even more. What if we were behind the doors? What if people we know are looking for something each day this December and we could give it to them?
We could be the gifts. We could give gifts of love and personally deliver the message that God wants us to, the message that He delivered when He gave His son to save us, because He loves us so much.
So we’re reinventing Advent this year and trying to look out from behind the calendar doors. Our prayer each day this Advent is that God will use us to give a gift of love to someone each day, to demonstrate His love, and deliver the Good News of Jesus.