I’ve never liked Christmas. Maybe I just have too many bad memories. Maybe I just don’t like what the holiday has become. Maybe I’m just a Scrooge (my wife’s theory). But for whatever reason, Christmas has never been a big deal to me.
Until the last few years.
A few years ago I was introduced to the season of Advent. Coming from a Baptist background, Advent was really never an option – or if it was, it was just some silly candle service where we sat around violating fire code.
But a few years ago I was introduced to Advent through Asbury Seminary. There, a whole community of people took Advent seriously – pleading with Paul in I Corinthians, “Come Lord Jesus!”
Preachers and others are often fond of lamenting how the season of Christmas has been robbed of its value by a culture of consumerism and materialism. But we’ve done little or nothing to combat it. We’ve forgotten that we have proven tools to fight such a co-opting of one of our Holy-days: Advent.
The season of Advent can redeem Christmas. It is the antithesis of everything Christmas has become in our culture. Advent is about waiting, mourning, repenting, longing for God to break through to us in a world that says there is no god but the individual self. Advent is about desiring to see, to escape the darkness, to look for our Messiah in a world that says, “I am your savior; just spend more money and you’ll be happy.”
Advent is the season where the church all over the world waits expectantly for the return of Jesus Christ, her true king and savior. Just as Israel waited 2,000 years ago for the first coming of her king and savior at Christmas, so now we wait, too, in Advent.
If we want to redeem Christmas, we must redeem Advent. And it cannot be one or two of us, it must be a community that together decides that waiting, repenting, expecting, mourning, and longing for more is better than all the promises of Black Friday and Christmas morning.
Come, Lord Jesus! Come!