I noticed the other day in the newspaper (that thing that comes out on paper every day or so- remember?) that even some of the non-liturgical churches are celebrating Advent. Not all, mind you, but some of the more open, see the benefit to the call of the church to prepare for Christ. Time was when some churches regarded candles as evil since they reminded them of other churches. Are there some who still feel that way?
I am glad to see that Advent is more universally recognized by churches. But, the culture is having no part of it, of course. This year, even before Halloween which is a big cultural holiday, by October 1 commercials were running on TV with Christmas themes.
Certainly, we all understand this. Since so much of the income for retail stores comes around Christmas then why not extend the notion of Christmas and therefore, Christmas spending. I get that. Employees get paid; the stores thrive; and they have enough to last the rest of the year. Nothing wrong with a thriving economy, though I could say something about our over-spending. That will wait for another day.
Advent is the season of just four Sundays before Christmas. Each Sunday has a theme, and we light a candle on the Advent Wreath to mark our steady movement toward the “coming” of the Christ. While the whole culture is saying: “Get busy; speed up; go fast.” The church is trying to say: “Slow down, for God’s sake!”
Slow down, reflect, think, pray, give, and remember the Lord you God. Children help with this, of course. With eyes wide open and ears perked, children give us some of the excitement of waiting and expecting.
Those of us who are adults are likely to have become jaded. That is, we are tempted to put it all down to a great cultural spasm. It’s so easy to get into a life of no expectation. It is what it is. That phrase covers a whole host of situations in life, situations over which we have no control. Even Christians are tempted to lose hope over the way things are. It’s easy.
Advent is a call to wait and pray and expect that the God of Jesus is on the move. Only those who truly have faith can see angels and hear angel choruses. Only those with faith in this God can know the joy of the presence of God with us.
So take a little time to work it out, to work through what it all means for you. And, keep your eyes open for the God who moves in history, will move in history, and will bring the Kingdoms of this world into his Kingdom. It’s enough to make you sing: Joy to the world!