Note: This was originally posted in 2010, but has been polished up a little. A very little. –Sam
Advent is upon us once more. For those not familiar with (or frightened by) Advent, it’s not something only Roman Catholics do, but an ancient Christian celebration (begun in 380 AD, I’m told) that is growing in popularity among ordinary evangelicals like me.
For some reason, a lot of people ask us (my wife and I) about Advent. It’s probably because it’s kind of strange to our area and the traditions we grew up in. Sometime, I’d like to write more about this season and link to some favorite books and articles about it. But today, I’d just like to briefly share one reason we love it.
Like most people, we’re easily distracted and can be prone to “go with the flow” unless we intentionally, directly do something different. There’s a lot of common grace in the Christmas Season, and I’m thankful for that. But so much of it, as is well-documented/lamented, is counter-productive to our aims. The Advent season marks a graceful antithesis with the world system and the emptiness that it offers. We do gifts, stockings, trees, etc., so don’t get the wrong idea. In fact, we love all that stuff and feel like it only really makes sense in a Christian world. Otherwise, it just rings hollow. But materialism always makes a holiday into a hollow-day.
Is that the worst play on words ever? I’m not sure we can know the answer to that, but it feels like it.
And speaking of holidays (holy days). Please don’t buy into the “War on Christmas” hype. So much of the political, social-media, TV-run moralism offers us a fight that we don’t need for ratings, anger, and attention they crave.
Advent-then-Christmas is a time when almost the entire world is presented with great blasts of light. Don’t walk in front of that and get cranky because a store employee says “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas!”
The customer is not always right-eous. There’s no need to campaign for pagans to keep a tame Christ in Christmas. Just let us keep Christ before us, above us, behind us, below us, as our brother Patrick said. Let’s get surrounded by Christ and not by ginned up political pettiness.
Remember mercy? Remember, mercy.
Instead of being petty, or going with the flow, why don’t we just live on purpose? Be beautiful, people. If we’re in Christ, then everything is ours. Advent is a reminder of the coming that broke open the floodgates of mercy and a focus on that coming again which will cover the earth in the rule of Christ the King.
We love practicing Advent because it’s life on purpose. It’s a named thing, a shaped and placed thing that helps us be who we are.