Where I used to live, one of the churches had a service each December called “Blue Christmas.” It was especially intended for all those people who experience December not as a time of reveling and joy, but who suffer with “the blues” because of “the holidays.”
It is easier to get the Christmas blues if we think that December is about Christmas. Then we think we are expected to be merry and cheerful for the whole month. If you want a way to beat the Christmas blues, try observing Advent.
Advent is the church season that leads up to Christmas. The word “Advent” means “coming”: we are waiting and getting ready for the birth of Jesus at Christmas and also for the coming of Christ at the end of time. Advent is about waiting for something that isn’t quite here yet. The themes are hope, expectation, and getting ready. We remain watchful and hopeful, with hints of joy, because we have hints of Christ, signs of his kingdom among us, but it’s not fully here.
What Advent usually amounts to these days is a time of preparing for Christmas, not in stillness and waiting, as Advent is meant to be, but in mad frenzy and rushing about, getting exhausted in taking care of what seem to be our obligations to prepare for Christmas. This year, a few vendors have co-opted Advent, offering special deals on each day in December. Just as shopping and purchasing is not the true meaning of Christmas, nor is it the true meaning of Advent.
So I suggest observing Advent. I mean, really observing Advent. Read the Bible lessons for each day. They are all about preparing and waiting for the kingdom of God and the coming of Christ. Say the Advent collect, about putting on the armour of light. Get a small Advent wreath for your home and light the candles as you go through the four weeks; they are a great reminder that the light of Christ grows. Buy a book of Advent reflections; there are lots on the market.
You can still get ready for Christmas. Just don’t lay too many expectations on yourself (and don’t let others lay too many expectations on you). Put up your Christmas tree, but don’t decorate it until closer to Christmas. A bare Christmas tree is a wonderful reminder that we are waiting and watching for the coming of Christ.
Christmas does not actually begin until 25 December (or the night before, on Christmas Eve). Remember “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? They begin on the 25th and go through until the day of Epiphany on 6th January.
A blessed Advent to you.
— The Rev. Liz Beasley, adapted from a sermon preached on 27 November 2016.
Almighty God, Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Link to Daily Readings
Go HERE for a daily prayer service. Scroll down for the readings, which are links themselves.