As the holiday song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or is it? Even before the Thanksgiving meal has been prepared and devoured we have been bombarded for weeks with advertising on television, the internet, radio, fliers in the mail, and the newspaper reminding us it is that time of the year to get into the Christmas spirit and partake in the annual ritual of holiday shopping.
In early November, radio stations play Christmas music 24-hours a day, seven-days a week in the hope of getting us into a festive aura. There is that constant reminder we only have so many days left until Christmas. Now with Covid-19, Black Friday started in October! It seems stores are decked out with Christmas decorations earlier and earlier each year. It used to be merchants would wait until the day after Thanksgiving to roll out their Christmas decorations, now they can hardly wait until Halloween. Santa Claus always seems to have a long line of children waiting to tell him exactly want they want for Christmas. This year, kids are going to have to Zoom Santa.
The commercialization and secularization of Christmas is alive and well, and all around us. Trees to be decorated, lights to be hung, cookies to be baked, and presents to be wrapped and shipped. It is almost impossible to not get completely ensnared into the secular side of Christmas. The appeal of holiday cheer is very alluring, even for a Christian, and yet as Christians we are called to something different.
Like the secular and retail world, the church prepares for Christmas as well; it is called the season of Advent. The season of Advent calls all Christians to transformation and conversion in Jesus Christ. We are not preparing for the birth of Christ; that happened 2000 years ago. What we are preparing for in Advent is the second coming of Jesus. Advent does not stand apart from Christmas; both seasons are interdependent and connected.
Advent requests us to truthfully scrutinize our sinfulness, while Christmastime commemorates that the word was made flesh in the person of Jesus and that we have the possibility of eternal life.
The Advent Christmas season is an exciting and busy time, but one that calls us into a deeper relationship with Jesus and other Christians. Advent Christmas invites us to seek the light of Christ in the midst of sin and darkness. With the presence and support of our Christian Community and the power of the Word of God proclaimed, we are invited to redirect our thoughts and actions to Jesus Christ during Advent Christmas.