Advent is for waiting, not shopping, says Archbishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the nation to slow down in the run-up to Christmas, rather than indulging in the usual frenzy of chocolate calendars and shopping.

Dr Rowan Williams made his comments as part of a Church of England campaign to encourage reflection on the true meaning of Christmas – calls which some commentators say may resonate more this year given the ongoing financial uncertainty.

Dr Williams says the Advent period running up to Christmas is really about waiting rather than instant gratification, but remarks: “We’re not a culture that’s very used to waiting.”

He went on: “I suppose if you did one of those word association tests on ‘Advent’, the other word you’d come up with straight away would be ‘calendar’.

“That’s all that most people these days are really aware of where Advent is concerned. The Advent Calendar is a countdown to Christmas, and it means daily sweets and chocolates.”

Dr Williams said that instead of allowing December to become filled with shopping and chocolate, people should consider what the waiting period of Advent is supposed to point towards – the coming of Christ.

He said: “We don’t have quite the sort of quiet we need to think, ‘Well what would it be if Jesus really came as if for the first time into my life’.

“All those bits of our contemporary culture which are about rushing to get gratification, all those habits of our culture which so drive the crises of our culture, whether it’s the credit crunch of the environmental crisis, all those things we have to cast a rather cold eye on during Advent and say slow down, take time.”

Related Resources