Friday, November 30, 2012
While Advent has a way of jarring our spiritual sensibilities, it is a jolt hardly felt by so many of those who watch the altar paraments change from the the white of Christ the King Sunday to the purple of Advent. In our liturgically impoverished ecclesiastical culture, Advent is little more than an awkward prelude to Christmas. It is the out-of-step with culture season. The secular culture around us has no place for songs like "Come, thou long expected Jesus," or "Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God with us." The message of the secular culture is "Get it now!" while the Advent word calls us to wait with patient expectation.
To be honest is to admit that Advent is more tolerated than experienced. We clamor for Santa to be dethroned so that Christ can be put back into Christmas; yet, we have so little patience for the liturgical tool which actually can accomplish such an end. Perhaps, this should not surprise us. Perhaps, it all speaks of the tension created by the Advent season and its message of expecting Jesus who is to come and experiencing Jesus who has come. There is no season which so invites us to live in the world of the Kingdom of God in our midst and the world of the Kingdom of God not yet come. Surely, it is both confusing and perplexing to consider what we are being asked to experience during these days of Advent.
Advent is most likely best experienced by those who can live in a world where everything does not have to be figured out and wrapped in a neat orderly package. Advent challenges us to look over the edge of what we declare to be reality; it calls us to admit facing Jesus face to face would be a most uncomfortable moment; and it creates a mindset which when embraced causes radical re-orientation of our values. It is no wonder we would rather get baby Jesus on stage quickly rather than stand too long so close to Christ who has come because of our sin and will come again to do the unthinkable--turn secular culture's table upside down once more.