Friday, December 14, 2012

How Christians Have Almost Destroyed the Season of Advent

The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel*

Advent is one of my favorite times of the church year. It is the beginning of the year for us, different from the “new year” in our secular calendar. Advent is a time of quiet preparation and expectation. I think it is less penitential as it has been, and still is, practiced in some churches. Unfortunately, the commercialization of this time of year has caused quite an “upset” in what is the true culture of our yearly Christian journey. Instead of quiet preparation and expectation we get loud advertisements and frantic stress. If we want to be counter cultural, which as a Christian I not only think we should strive for but it is our very call, then this is one time of the year when we have to put all the effort we can into standing our ground.

My family, some time back, decided to try to claim this time again. We do our best, and this year succeeded, in doing all of our shopping before the beginning of Advent, so we can actually enjoy this season. My Christmas cards go out during Christmas, which starts on Christmas Day and runs 12 days (you know, you have heard that little song!). During those `1 days our family stretches out the gifts that do come to us, opening one a day, and saving one really special gift for each other to open on the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, which is also supposed to be a grand celebration, mostly forgotten, when the wise men finally made it to the side of baby Jesus. Our tree and lights are still up through the Epiphany and most of our neighbors, I am sure, think us lazy and disorganized. Good. I hope they ask questions.

I try to shy away from “shoulds” but I have to say this one is difficult because I think, as Christians, we should be studying more during this season than our shopping lists. We should be contemplating more than our credit card bills. We should be spending time more with those we love and less frantically running around to Christmas parties whose time has not yet come, and that I at least wish we would call Advent parties.

This is one season when, as a people, we have been co-opted, and taken away from our culture. And our tradition would be a huge gift to a wearied and frantic public that, for the most part, knows deep down there should be something more to this joyous time than seems to be promised by the cleverly disguised greed of these days.

I will wish you Merry Christmas, and mean it, when it comes. For now I wish you a blessed Advent, one filled with quiet preparation and expectation.

* Bishop of Olympia from Seattle, Washington

Source: Huffington Post

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