Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 250,000 readers More than 30,000 links Updated every Sunday
Will you help support
Anglicans Online?

The Paypal logotype

Noted This Week
Sites new to AO

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
Hong Kong
New Zealand
South Africa

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Our search engine

It's a conspiracyHallo again to all. The old hymn says that

Advent tells us Christ is near,
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
All the glory of His grace.

The movement from proximity to presence—and then extended enjoyment—is carved crisply into the liturgical year. First we become like 'them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death'; then we follow the star to 'find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger'; then we 'kneel down, and pay him homage', and finally like the kings of Tarshish and the isles 'open our treasure chests'. Advent isn't quite a season of gloom, even in the times of amber-frozen allegedly pristine Anglicanism, but its traditional foci are Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell rather than Discounts, Jingle Bells, and 'Happy Holidays'.

This is the way Christians have always met the dayspring from on high who visits us and redeems us in accordance with God's ancient promises. This is the way we have always learned about Jesus and what John Keble called 'His peculiar presence and covenant'. This is how we have always moved from the beginning of a new year on Advent I through Christmas through Circumcision through Epiphany through Lent I through Palm Sunday through Easter through Ascension through Whitsun through Trinity Last. You can't get from one place in the succession without going through the others.

Our ancient covenant, no less than those made with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and David, is rooted in events that happen in a specific order to peculiar people. Our binding to ourselves of the mighty acts of the Lord are the way in which this covenant happens for us and to us, in us and with us:

Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom.

To judge by our experiences in the last week before Advent, though, nobody much seems to care for the process of unfolding love that the church year provides. On the Wednesday before Advent, bank tellers and shopkeepers had already begun to wish us Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas and the like. We're never sure how to respond in such cases. Should we say a polite 'Thank you' and take our change, despite the constant albeit unintended violence to one of our religion's holiest seasons? Does that fail to accept the astonishingly premature Christmas wishes in the undoubtedly sincere spirit in which they are likely given? Should we deliver dour lines such as 'May you have an holy Advent, giving thanks for this time given us to contemplate life sub specie aeternitatis' whilst we key in our PIN for credit card authorisations and take away our books and socks and scarves and shirts? We're sincerely curious about how you deal with the unavoidable intrusion of Christmas into Advent, and we hope you'll give us some advice on this count. In long Anglican Christian lives, we've still not quite figured this one out. We'd like to be more like we imagine those loving Advent-lovers Evelyn Underhill and Jeremy Taylor would have been in such situations, and we're afraid we often come off more like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Maugre all that and the retail Santas, Advent is here. It's one of our favourite times, not least because it takes some work to carry it secretly and meaningfully within our hearts. It's the time of holy waiting we need to get ready for the songs of angels, and the opening of treasures. We're glad you're here with us in this tired old New Covenant of ours, which by our best lights still 'containeth all things necessary for salvation'.

Advent tells us Christ is near, so let's get ready inside and out.

See you next week.

Our signature
All of us at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 28 November 2010

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2010 Society of Archbishop Justus
. Please address all spam to
Yes, this is Zimbabwe