With just 31 praying days to Christmas, a Church of England bishop has penned a book which aims to be just the tonic for the frenetic activity of Advent – even suggesting cutting up the credit card, making friends a simple homemade gift, and pruning the Christmas card list to those you really care about.
It follows the success of Do Nothing to Change Your Life in 2007, when Bishop Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, handed out egg-timers to commuters at his local train station to highlight the value of time spent in stillness.
His new book, Do Nothing: Christmas is Coming, is an ‘Advent calendar with a difference’ offering readers “another way of celebrating Christmas, where its joys and promises can help put life back together again” rather than risk it imploding with “all the conflicting demands and expectations” that the season can bring.
Far from a killjoy’s manifesto, the book’s brief, down-to-earth daily reflections take their cue from the trimmings and trappings of contemporary Christmas – from buying the turkey to the office Christmas party. Each ingredient of the modern Christmas is given a twist, encouraging readers to consider their preparations for Christmas in ‘slow motion’: to create time amid the Advent rush to rediscover the real joys of the festival by taking time to look afresh at how to prepare, and wait patiently, for the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Each day’s reflections, which serve as prompts for quiet periods of rest and contemplation, conclude with practical suggestions for further thought, prayer or action – ranging from reviewing your charitable giving, to creating homemade gifts, seeking out vulnerable people who might be alone this Christmas, or bringing back family mealtimes. The accompanying website is here: http://www.whywearewaiting.com/
“This book offers a conversation between the imagined voice of the sort of frazzled and fragmented person that many of us become at Christmas, and my own reflections and suggestions on how to make sense of this and start sorting things out,” writes Bishop Stephen in his introduction.