Sunday, December 18, 2005

Advent



Is it just me or does this Advent / Christmas season seem to be a little flat.
I don't mean to be a scrouge or a grinch... but...
* The arrangements of carols seem lame.
* The energy that churches put into Christmas programs seems a little [no let's be real - drop the "a little"] self-centred.
* There are nasty comments going around on the web over whether churches that cancel Sunday services this year are spiritual or sold out to culture.
* The stores seem to be full of disgruntled people [maybe it would be better if we had "gruntled" people] - spending too much money on stuff for people that we don't really connnect with [no wonder the gift card is so popular - you can now get a gift card for the mall, so you can have even less idea about who a person is and what they "need" - "need" for most Canadians is a very relative term.]

I wonder if part of the problem is that we miss the whole point of Advent. Advent has come to mean a preparation time for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. And there is a sense that we need the reminders of the situation at the bith of Jesus but every year [& I think it's getting worse] we get the sanitized, spiritualized Hallmark version. We are living in a world [and churches] that are full of pain and hurt and disappointment and most churches act like some nice Christmas platitudes will solve everything.

The season of Advent is really preparation for the second coming of Jesus. It's a reminder that the kingdom of God is "now but not yet"; it's breaking in, but hasn't fully broken through. I wonder if part of the problem is that we don't really want Jesus to come in power and glory; we don't really want his kingdom power to be real in our midst; we don't believe that Jesus is big enough to speak healing and deliverance and real hope into the tough realities of our world.

And so we settle for "nice" and miss Jesus - no wonder Christmas seems so flat.

2 comments:

The Righteousness of God said...

WARNING - REAL RANT ADVISORY IN EFFECT - NOT FOR THOSE WHO LIKE THEIR REALITY SHAKEN OR EVEN STIRRED.

Advent is 'Corny' with a capital 'K'! It spells out something it isn't. It makes no sense what so ever...like my opening statement.

How can you prepare for Jesus' birth? It was done. It can never be done again. It was a one timer! At best...for the last two thousand odd years...He can only be birthed into people's lives. We could celebrate His birthday like other birthdays...or is He too 'Holy' to be dragged through the human equivalent. (He never experienced anything we do - or did He?) I love...no I LOVE the commericals I have heard lately by World Vision whereby one can buy an animal or farm implements etc for a third world person. How cool would that be to give a goat in the name of Jesus at Christmas. How cool would it be to forgive a third world nation some of it's debt...in the name of Jesus. How cool to give in the name of Jesus rather than to receive. Oh no..it is all about little kingdoms of Christianity...our well armoured fortresses that keep out people that don't look or act like us. Talk about the Holy of Holy's bah humbuckers...shame...shame...

Advent should be counter cultural. Currently it smells puke-y like retailers. Advent in the church should be a safe haven of sanity not more of the bull-pucky of the world. Sanity ought to prevail. I believe many people hurt at Christmas for many 'real' reasons. Chains of false expectations put on them to give when they have nothing to give (accumulate greater debt); chains of bad and hurtful memories - loss of loved ones, dysfunctional family relationships. Yet in the church, aka Disney World, we are counting down the Sunday's for the capitalistic trade of goods that will heal all afflictions. BULL!

The church needs to point to Jesus as one who sets the 'captives free'. The church needs to be the tangile hands and feet of Jesus, not of Retail.

Stop the insanity, Be countercultural, Be the Haven of Rest for a lost and hurting world. When will the church stop being a source of hurting others and become the healing catalyst?

michael lewis said...

My catholic priest says he likes Christmas on Sundays best, because then he doesn't have to do an extra Christmas mass during the week (when it's a day other than Sunday).

For him, it's about not working extra.