I seem to be having a time keeping my appointment with this blog. If you're a regular reader, please forgive me. No excuses. So, for now, I'm back and what a great time to come back to this task.
If there's anything that makes me want to write and reflect, it's Advent/Christimas. It still bothers me that we want to rush to quickly to the Christmas Season. I'm sure that a lot of the cultural stuff is about commerce. Why else would we start playing Christimas music on the radio and TV right after Halloween? When I was a boy, we would wait at least until after Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving the Macy's parade was held in New York and at the end of the parade was jolly, old, St. Nick. Here we go; Christmas was near.
But, now, without fail, as soon as Halloween is over, the culture just sort of skips over Thanksgiving and goes right to Christmas. I was taught, in the dark ages, that we should teach our people to wait on Christmas, to take advantage of Advent as a time to pray and repent and reflect on the meaning of it all. For instance, don't sing any Christmas carols until Christmas Eve. Then, sing them for the 12 days of Christmas, up to Epiphany. That's what they taught me. And, still I try not to have us sing any Christmas music for a couple of Sundays, though some of you will come to me and say: "Why can't we sing the Christmas carols?" And, of course, the appropriate response is: it isn't Christmas yet. It's like trying to hold back a team of wild horses.
So, why is it that every year we get earlier in our celebration of Christmas? Commercialism? Yes, no doubt, we want our merchants, and therefore, everyone, to benefit from the huge buying and selling of this season. I save for another day any comment about over-commercialization and all that. For now, I acknowledge that we are into that part of it- at least some.
But, I think there's more to it than that. I think there's something about Christmas that makes us want to make it hurry up and get here. What if the world, as we know it, is often so bad and we think of Christmas as so good and happy, that we can't wait for it to get here. Sure, there are some people who are sad, and for good reason. But, on the whole, Christmas brings out the best in people, the best in us. The grouchiest among us find some reason to give and share and be happy, if for only a moment.
There's just something about a young mother and a baby born out there in the middle of nowhere, angels singing, shepherds worshipping, Magi bringing gifts. There where the stench of the world is greatest is that beautiful baby, Son of God.
See, we do need Advent to remind us that deep within and without us is this deep desire and yearning for joy and happiness. And the only joy and happiness that we know that is truly a gift is wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David...Glory to God in the highest and earth...
Joy to the world! Joy Indeed!