We are now fully into Advent: a time of quiet, reflection and preparation for Christmas. Now, you might be thinking to yourself: who’s she trying to kid? Quiet reflection?! It’s the mad season of cards, presents, food, parties and yet another carol service! And this has been going on since September, when the shops started to lure us in with Christmas trinkets that are the ‘must-haves’ for this year.

By the time Boxing Day arrives, we are all ready to collapse in a heap, take the decorations down, breathe a sigh of relief and say: “We’ve done it! Another year over!”

I can certainly appreciate why we sometimes feel this way… because the build-up to Christmas seems so long, if it’s begun in autumn. The truth is, it really begins on Christmas Eve. With the birth of a baby in Bethlehem, we awake on Christmas morning to greet the Saviour who has been born to bring good news of unity, love and peace for all. Now the celebrations really begin: it’s party-time for the next Twelve Days, until the 6th January with Epiphany Sunday, the kings arriving with gifts, and Twelfth Night.

I for one love the idea of having twelve days of joy, celebration, family, neighbours, holiday-time. That’s why I invite you to join us at the 11:30pm Christmas Eve Communion at Easby Chapel: and the 10:30am family service at Great Ayton Methodist Church on Christmas Day: to kick off the festivities together.

May Christmas bring you joy, love and peace.

Rev Lisa.