Monday, November 21, 2011
Advent is the church's answer to those who protest the commercialization of Christmas and are always saying, "Let's put Christ back into Christmas." When Advent is properly observed, it enables us to spiritually prepare ourselves to celebrate the Christ-event without getting caught up in what the secular community says must be done in order to get ready for December 25. However, the truth is the spiritual community is so tuned into the secular voices of the season that Advent becomes more like pre-Christmas hype than a time where things like anticipation and expectation are allowed to grow in our hearts.
Anyone who enjoys a good sunrise at the beach knows that the experience is about more than just seeing that big yellow ball pop up on the ocean. Sunrise watchers arrive early. Sometimes they sit in darkness. Always they watch and marvel at the way the promise of light is offered through the changing colors at the distant place where sky meets water. These early morning watchers are constantly thinking things like, "It won't be long now," or "It's coming!" The experience of waiting is so powerful that the moment of actual sunrise is almost anti-climatic.
When we do Advent right, it is much the same, but even more powerful than the experience of sunrise watchers. Advent watchers are a patient bunch. They look forward to the waiting and expectation. They understand and accept the tension created by those who cannot do Advent because they have to do the secular version of Christmas. They sit on the edge of their seats thinking, "It won't be long now. He's coming." They have learned that December is not so much about hurrying around filled with stress, but a time of quiet waiting which only fuels our hunger for Jesus.