Advent Confession

It’s supposed to be good for the soul so I’m going to make a confession here as I don’t want to appear to be something I’m not.

I’m already playing Christmas Music. As a matter of fact, I’ve been playing Christmas music for a while now. Like, since October.

Yes, I know it’s Advent (or will be this Sunday), and a responsible cleric would honor and embrace the unique graces of each season and would encourage her or his congregants to do the same.

I’m sorry. I can’t help myself.

I may be in denial, but I think I’m able to observe the anticipatory and penitential character of Advent waiting while I concurrently rejoice in that waiting’s conclusion.

Of course, I would assert that my immersion in and profound enjoyment of the Christmas Spirit bears little or no resemblance to the touting of Christmas in the parallel universe of American consumerism. While the world around me declares excess and acquisition the appropriate garb of our entrance to winter as though the gloom in the world is lessened in direct proportion to the size of one’s high definition television screen, I am transfixed by the juxtaposition of light dispelling darkness. While well intentioned shoppers work to provide the children in their lives with the electronic and overstuffed gizmos they swear they can’t live without, I am inexplicably drawn to the complete sufficiency of the child who had no toys, no crib for his bed but who, in total poverty, provided eternal richness for all.

And, frankly, it’s okay with me that the dominant culture busies itself with shopping and glitz and visions of sugarplums. The world’s hunger for something special in the depth of winter is apparent, dressed in the only way the spiritually impoverished can muster – in tinsel and excess. The relative paucity of society’s Christmas observances aren’t wrong or un-religious or counterproductive. They are just…..less. Less than they might be if the world and it’s people took Jesus of Nazareth seriously and focused their Christmas excess on the least of his brothers and sisters; less than the lingering glow of gratitude of the heart that has embraced the invitation to step outside of self and into what we might call Manger Living; less than what we want but more than what we have.

And the Advent waiting, the longing, the looking to the future in hope – all of these can thrive side by side in my enjoyment of the season with the excitement of Divine Triumph that has entered the world in a most unusual and unexpected way. For the possibility still exists that God, through the hearts and hands and eyes and lives of the Body of Christ present in this world can redefine culture’s craving for abundance by giving witness to the wealth that is never exhausted, the glory whose brightness is never dimmed.

So, Joy to the world! And Come, O come Immanuel.