Monday, November 16, 2009

The War on Advent

I’d like to take a moment and discuss a religio-cultural war in our world, an insidious plot that is threatening to erode the very foundations of the faith. This conspiracy is so deep that NO ONE is talking about it, and only the most intuitive and discerning persons, such as myself, have noticed it. The rest of you who are blind to this war are obviously yourselves unwitting pawns in its prosecution.

I am speaking today, of course, of the WAR ON ADVENT currently being waged by Christians all over our nation!

Those who have master-minded this deviancy are so clever, they manufactured an entire other controversy to distract an unwitting nation from their true agenda. That’s right, the so-called “Christmas Controversy” is nothing but an elaborate smoke screen. It is a “green-and-red herring,” if you will. And it is working!

You see, in fighting against the straw man argument that Christmas is under attack, the anti-Adventers have recruited untold dozens to do their bidding. All of the belligerent calls to wish people “Merry Christmas” no matter what – all of the militant radio stations who begin bombarding us with Christmas music in the middle of October – all of the radical stores setting out their Christmas wares BEFORE Reformation day – it’s all working just as they planned it!

You see, in our effort to counter-attack the entirely make-believe attack on Christmas, we have started celebrating it earlier and earlier, and with more and more fervor. And the Advent-haters love it! Turns out that by early December we’re so sick and tired of the whole yuletide schtick that we just kind of coast through the rest of the time until New Year’s Eve, when we just get wasted and forget what the big deal was all about in the first place.

And what, pray tell, has happened to the season of Advent in the meantime? EXACTLY! We haven’t given it a second thought. Shoot, we haven’t even given it a first thought, truthfully. No prophecies, no waiting patiently for the Lord, no building of expectancy, no time of reflection and renewal. We go straight from Halloween Candy to Christmas Candy, with a brief stopover for pumpkin pie on the last Thursday in November.

Advent is a one candle per week deal, baby! You don’t light them all up at once! One candle for hope … wait a week … one candle for peace … wait a week … on candle for joy … wait a week … one candle for love … wait some more time … then … BAM! Christ shows up in one final candle lit on the wreath. And then you get part of that light onto the littler version of that final candle that you hold in your hand until the room is filled up with everyone’s little bit of Christ’s light and because you have waited for it ….

…because you have waited for it for those long, dark evenings … because you have waited for it over those four sacred weeks … because you have waited for it in prayer and patient anticipation …

…it is a miracle.

What are you waiting for? Truly - do we even know? I believe that there is a reason to wait, and that learning to wait may be one of the most difficult, and the most rewarding, skills we could master. You know that cheesy Christmas t-shirt theology about the "Reason for the Season." Well, there is a reason for the Advent season, as well.


Don't rush the miracle.


Tracy Crowe Jones said...

Preach it!

bob said...


jhnwndl said...

Advent Meditations by John E. Windell includes short story illustrations based on the Revised Common Lectionary scriptures for each day in Advent.

Stephanie said...

I'm sure you saw the note about GBOD having suggestions for Advent Hymns set to Christmas tunes. I appreciate the thought after all the years of wrestling with folks over singing Advent hymns. However, I would note that, as you so clearly point out, the focus and tenor of Advent is different from that of the Christmas season. The music of our hymns reflects that difference. Advent tunes are often plaintive, simple tunes. They have a different rhythm for a reason - they are conveying a different message (expectation) from the in-your-face joy of Christmas: expectation fulfilled, hope renewed, a new chapter of the story to tell. (There are, of course, hymns of both Advent and Christmas that do not fit these broad statements.)

So, I guess I thank the Church for offering options to reduce the acrimony that can arise at this time of year, but I am still saddened that we have all but given up on Advent. Advent has its own message and lessons to convey, and Christmas is the richer for it.

Anonymous said...

Suggest this to Dan Brown for his next big "the church is covering up the truth" book. To get Advent in and to avoid the fight my church did a series on Advent in October (focused mostly on the second advent).