Hard to believe that we are nearly at the first Sunday in Advent; a good reminder, though, of the need to prepare ourselves for the feast of the nativity. Once upon a time the Church took over a pagan time and Christianised it; I am tempted to thing that the reverse has happened; have you tried finding a Christian Christmas card in an ordinary shop?  All mine come from online Christian sources, and just as well, as I can’t find many in my local shops. It may be a bit cheesy to say that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’, but on this one a good helping of cheese seems needed. I don’t know about you, but I feel the need for something of a spiritual ‘detox’ in the lead up to Christmas. I have friends (all women of course) who are on a physical ‘detox (for which read diet) for Christmas in the hope they can fit into their best party clothes; I feel I need the spiritual equivalent so that I am ready for the celebration of the miracle of the Incarnation.

I’ve been enjoying Geoffrey’s series on the portrayal of John and Peter in St John’s Gospel. As they are the two Apostles I admire the most, I am delighted at the idea that some of the scholars have got it wrong. I am never sure about this idea of ‘communities’ in the early Church, but I like the way Geoffrey has taken it to say something useful; I hope he will consider this an open invitation to do the same again.

I was puzzled by some of the discussions about ‘demons’, but then I have never taken much time to study this.  There has been a long tradition of exorcism in the Church, East and West, so I see no great need to dissent.

I have been meaning to blog on women bishops and on the Pilling report in the Church of England, but have nothing new to say on the former, and Chalcedon451 intends to deal with the latter, so I shall leave off until he has had his say.

I know that some of you find the series ‘Calling all bloggers’ a good aid to sleep, but I am rather enjoying it. Nicholas provided an unexpected twist, and it may be a bit naughty to say someone is dead and then that they aren’t, but it adds to the suspense – for those of us not asleep. I await Geoffrey’s next instalment with interest – and the hope that I get the next go.

I hope that the run-up to Christmas will allow all of us some time to remember what all the fuss is about, not in a way that stops other forms of enjoyment, but in one which helps us all to enjoy it all the more.

I have asked Chalcedon451 to continue his Gospel reflections for the Advent season, and despite the many other demands on his time, he has agreed.  I want to offer some reflections of my own across the coming weeks, partly as a way of getting myself into the place I want to be.

As part of this, I wonder if, as an Advent gift to us all, we might have a moratorium on fake ‘Holy Fathers’ and the like?  Jokes sometimes wear thin, and it seems, from some of the comments, that that is the case now. AATW remains a place where all contributors may say what they like, but, I hope, one in which we also respect others enough to have our bit of fun and move on.

I hope we all have a holy and contemplative Advent so we may be ready to receive the Christ Child once more in our hearts, with thanksgiving.