Advent reflections

i find myself always living in the tension between advent season of the church year and the crazy christmas celebrating going on already in our world.

what i find most difficult is that advent is all about the anticipation of the coming of Christ but not quite the celebration yet.

we are prepping for the party that is to happen.
we are sitting on pins and needles
we “hurry up and wait”

we spend so much of our time rushing forward and preparing that we can forget to sit and wait.

i’m not condemning anyone who loves christmas so much that they begin celebrating early, but i am saddened that by the time the day itself arrives, most people are ready for it all to be over.
i’m sad because i don’t think we sing songs like “o come, o come emmanuel” enough for the words to seep into our souls as we wait and pray for God to once again come and be with us.
i’m sad because we rush and don’t wait in anticipation. we leap ahead and forget to take the small steps to get to the end of the journey.

during advent, i watch as the sun sets earlier and rises later. the temperature stays lows (and this year we had several days of wind chill advisories/warnings). that is the reality of advent in north dakota.

we have christmas in the darkest time of the year.
we have a celebration that is all about light and joy and peace and love and hope during a time of the year when so many of us fight off depression (seasonal affective disorder is not fun…nor is being isolated from loved ones).
we celebrate God coming into the world that is broken and cold and messed up and hurting, but we aren’t willing to sit and think about the world that God comes to save. far too often we just want the fun without remembering why we need God to come in the first place.

i know i may sound like the grinch or scrooge (or any other grump), but i cannot really say how annoyed i was when decorations showed up last summer.
far too often i see people embracing the fleeting happiness that comes with pretty decorations and extravagant gifts while ignoring the deep, abiding joy of knowing that Christ comes to this world, to our lives.
Jesus was born in a humble setting and the fanfare was delayed.
so why do we stop the celebrating before God comes? why are we so exhausted by the time the church season of christmas rolls around that we disappear from church services until Easter? when does christmas cease being about Christ? how can we reclaim advent, the waiting where in some traditions no decorations are hung or carols are sung until christmas eve? can we? or are we going to be limited to figuring out how to find meaning in the mess that we have created?
which, in many ways, this mess is exactly why we are waiting yet again for Christ to come.

as i read/write this post, i can see cynicism seeping through.
i can sense my frustration.
but i can also admit that i am truly heart-broken when we ask our children what they are waiting for this advent season and their responses are “santa” or “presents” instead of Jesus’s birth.

my prayer is that we will all be caught up in the Spirit and in Christ, not just the “spirit of christmas.”
may God bless you abundantly with peace, hope, love and joy

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