Sometimes I feel like engaging in the reality of Advent (and, for that matter, the church calendar) is like taking the proverbial “red pill”.
The more deeply I consider the implications, the more difficult it is to relate to what passes for Christmas, not only in the larger culture, but in the church itself.
Traditionally, Advent is a season of reflection and quiet preparation, not Black Friday sales, gaudy decorations, or exuberant displays of a triumphant arrival of a conquering, militant king.
After all, according to the Biblical narrative, the first “preparation time” involved a young, pregnant woman and a man who was not (yet) her husband, and who were desperately searching for a safe place to have a very real, a very human, a very fragile baby.
(Last time I checked, infants are still pretty fragile things.)
Sometimes, for me Advent puts me out of step with the people around me, Christian or not.
Even Sundays can seem oddly “out of season” for me.
Pro Tip Again: Did you know that “Advent songs” do NOT equal “Christmas songs”?
Advent songs are songs of longing, yearning, reflections on WHY we might need a Savior in the first place. They are full of hope, but they are not necessarily full of joy (yet).
Christmas (also a “season,” by the way) songs reflect the consummation of Advent, the fulfillment of the hope, the promises.
But for some reason, we (meaning a lot of my Christian tribe) do not want to linger in longing, or hope, or reflection. Instead, we rush to the fulfillment, to the party, to the celebration.
(Though, again, the “celebration” in the Biblical narrative feels a lot different than most of what I see in my world. I wonder if Joseph and Mary—or even Jesus himself—would recognize our celebrations.)
But a few years ago, I took the “red pill,” because I wanted a rhythm to my life, and my year, and what I found in the liturgical year—the rhythms, the guidance, the natural “ups and downs” of repentance, celebration, peace, and reflection—gave a healthy shape to my life.
So I do the best I can, finding my Advent where I can.
Faith, spirituality, advent, advent 2021,