HOW are you going to spend Christmas? Those of us who have families living far away are hoping that we can meet after a long time apart.

We pray that families will be allowed to meet this Christmas. There is usually a rush to prepare for the festive season and a great deal of preparation.

The Christian Church has a special preparation for Christmas. It is called Advent. Most people are only aware of Advent calendars with chocolate, but there is more to it.

It is a period of four weeks of preparation so that we can truly celebrate Christmas as a time when Jesus Christ brings hope, light, love and salvation into the world.

Christmas is only truly Christmas when Christ is the centre of our celebrations. As we prepare food, fun and festivity, so also should we prepare spiritually to welcome the Christ-child into our hearts, whether we are in Church, Chapel or at home.

Advent is a time for Christians to re-tell and reflect on the biblical narrative that points to Jesus Christ as God’s promised Saviour. Some Advent calendars show the Nativity story in their windows.

The Advent wreath in church, with its five candles is an aid to help us.

The first candle reminds us of the great men of the Old Testament who prepared the way for the coming of Christ- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.

The second candle reminds us of the Prophets, such as Isaiah, who looked for a Messiah.

The third candle reminds us of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus.

The fourth candle reminds us of Mary, the mother of Jesus, whose obedience to God’s will is exemplary. The fifth candle is for Christmas Day, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, with great joy.

We tend to rush into singing Christmas carols and miss the wonderful Advent hymns. One of my favourites is by Charles Wesley (1707-88)

Come, thou long- expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us;

let us find our rest in thee.


Israel’s strength and consolation,

hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation,

joy of every longing heart.

There is a lovely translation of “O come, O come, Emmanuel” by J.D. Vernon Lewis. (1879-1970)

O tyred di, Emanwel,

a datod rwymau Isrâel

sydd yma’n alltud unig, trist

hyd ddydd datguddiad Iesu Grist;

O cân, O cân; Emanwel

Ddaw atat ti, O Isrâel


O tyrd, Flaguryn Jesse, nawr;

a dryllia allu’r gelyn mawr;

rho fuddugoliaeth drwy dy wedd

ar uffern ddofn ac ofn y bed:

O cân, O cân: Emanwel

Ddaw atat ti, O Israel.


Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility; that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal;

Through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Hollalluog Dduw, dyro inni ras i ymwrthod â gweithredoedd y tywyllwch ac i wisgo arfau’r goleunu, ynm awr yn y bywyd marwol hwn a brofwyd gan dy Fab Iesu Grist pan ymwelodd â ni mewn gostyngeiddrwydd mawr;

Fel y bo i ni yn y dydd diwethaf, pan ddaw drachefn yn ei fawredd gogoneddus i farnu’r byw a’r meirw, gyfodi i’r bywyd anfarwol;

Trwyddo ef sy’n fyw ac yn teyrnasu gyda thi a’r Ysbryd Gân, yn un Duw, ynawr ac am byth. Amen.

Rev John Powell

Retired vicar of Cardigan