Do they know it's Christmas?
One of the people we follow on Twitter has asked Twitter to install an app to report people saying it's Christmas when it isn't. This person points out -quite rightly - that it is not Christmas, but Advent. And these are two different things! Christmas is feast, celebration, joy to the world.
Advent , on the other had, is the time when we prepare.
And how do we prepare for Christmas?
Well - put up a tree, make sure we've found the address list for the cards, make the travel arrangements....the list is endless.
But what if Christmas really is the time when we remember that God came to be one of us, and do the equivalent of riding on a bus?
Then maybe Advent is time when we take a long hard look at the world and wonder how it go to be this way, and what it might look like if we took seriously the coming of the Holy One.
May be Advent is the time when we are realistic about the hard stuff - not wrapping ourselves up in tinsel and sparkle, but being hard edged about the places where it hurts, where it is wrong, where evil and dark powers are in control - and I don't mean spooky stuff, but the systems and dominations that mean that people are displaced, that people are dehumanised, that violence seems like the only answer, and that there is a sense of no hope in too many places and too many hearts.
Maybe Advent is the time to be honest, and pray for mercy - and then to go and live as if there is some, and we can live towards this kingdom that Christmas promises.
That's what we are concentrating on this year. It doesn't look Christmassy - but it is real!