Today is a Feast Day, Christ the King. It is the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year, which is not in sync with the calendar year. (Sort of like the School Year ends in May) Next weekend, days after celebrating Thanksgiving, we will begin the new year with Advent. We are reading Scriptures focused on the End of the World and then others focused on the Coming of Jesus. Advent means coming. It is not a season to prepare for Christmas. That is not its purpose. It is a season to reflect on the Lord coming among us in myriad ways, with a special focus on the incarnation.
November and December are difficult times for liturgical Christians. The pagans and most Protestants are full blown into Christmas celebrations starting with Halloween. While they are singing "have a holly jolly Christmas" (or Winter Festival) we liturgical types sing "o come, o come emmanuel!" Some of my favorite hymns are from Christmas, so it is hard not to just jump right into it with them. And certainly, they will ask, "what difference does it make. do you really think God cares?"
I hesitate to say yes, it seems arguably preposterous, yet if that is the case then really much of what I do is silly and useless. The idea of the Christian life as an incarnation of the life of Christ and a sacrament of salvation history requires real time. It is fair to ask our critics, "does God want us singing 'away in the manger' the week after we put away the pumpkins and halloween candy? Does God think it is a bad idea to set a season apart to ponder the great mysteries?
What time is it?
The Advent Spirituality is, I think a case could be made, the container in which faith is lived out. If faith is confidant assurance in things yet unrevealed (and it is); Advent is courageous steadfastness in the face of the darkness until the Light is manifest. The old song "Hold on, I'm Coming!" (whatever the original writers really meant) is certainly a fit descriptor of Jesus message to us all. This is the message I aim to share a week from now. I think if we get good at Advent we will be good at life.
Christmas is about 'open packages' and 'the celebration'... Advent is about "Come Lord Jesus," and "Better days are coming," and "we can hold this position" and a thousand other phrases which convey the stand firm in faith mentality.
I do not think I can convince anyone of the value of advent. I am not sure I can easily cling to it myself with the most recent onslaught of premature christmas-ization. Yet I think the wisdom of an ancient church that one should spend four weeks contemplating the Advent themes of Scripture cannot be denied. You and I are impatient and want it now!!!! God is in charge, He will decide when.
What time is it? It is time to wait well.