Saturday, November 30, 2013
For some weeks Advent has been lurking just below the liturgical horizon. Unseen; yet, coming with certainty. It always does this time of the year and as it comes, it brings with it this bag of things that simply do not seem to fit together. It is the season of square pegs and round holes. It is the season of Jesus who is coming in the clouds and Jesus who came in the cradle of Bethlehem. It is the season of John the Baptist hollering, "Repent!" and angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest" The problem is that few want to do Advent. Most want to get on to Christmas. And when the season of Advent simply will not go away, the impatient ones do everything which they can do to push it aside to make room for Christmas things.
It goes without saying that Advent is a season of tension for the church. The church of this current age is no different than the people who sit in its pews or the preachers who preach from its pulpits. Like its people, the church has difficulty with waiting and anticipation. The church of our day is too much about the now. If people who come to the church are not fed and entertained with what they want, they might leave and not come back so the church acquiesces to the secular clamor for the smackings of Christmas even at the expense of the powerful liturgy and scripture of Advent.
It is a shame for so much gets lost in shuffling Advent out and Christmas in. One of the things that Advent does so well is to prepare the church and its believing community for the celebration of the Christ-event in Bethlehem. The Advent call to wait with anticipation and to prepare with repentance truly puts the heart in a position to receive the blessings of the "God with us" One. While some divine blessings are poured out upon us simply because God chooses to do so, it is also true that a heart readied is a heart more likely to experience with an overwhelming fullness the joy of true spiritual blessings. As the heart is readied in Advent, so is it blessed in Christmas.