Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is Advent?

Text for the week:  Luke 1:67-79

As I reflect on this semester, I think we’ve come full circle.  Here’s what I mean:

While suffering from a mild case of writer’s block, I was reading through some of my reflections written earlier in this semester, realizing that what I had written in September was really about Advent.  That’s almost like playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving — or is it? 

Here’s what I wrote:

I’m reading a book by Phillip Yancy entitled, Rumors of Another World.  In it, he talks about the tension we live in between two worlds; one filled with disorder, pain, sorrow and death; and another that gives signs that point to a reality different than what we often see.  At times, the disorder of one acts as a signpost to the other.

I’ve been reflecting on how that shapes how we remember, especially this week as we arrive at the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks.  There is a lot being said about how to move through this weekend — preparations being made by every organization, from churches to the NFL.  As people of a particular faith, shaped by the one called Jesus, we move through it remaining hopeful that the world that is disordered will one day be made new.  We long for the day when there will be no more crying, pain, death or sorrow, and work to make this Kingdom a present reality.  So we lean into that future, in hope and faith longing for the day when Friday is gone and Sunday is here.

That’s Advent.  Living today, shaped by the hope we have for tomorrow.  Christ has come and will come again. While we wait, we experience His presence here and now.  Advent living isn’t seasonal, like Christmas music.  We don’t remove it from our thought, like the tree from our family rooms.  We don’t put it away, like the lights on our porch.  It shapes us every day as we remember the first time He came by the retelling of the stories of the birth of Jesus; looking ahead to the day when He will come again; and allowing those thoughts to shape how we live today. 

So, until He comes again, Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas is everywhere

Text for the week: Luke 2:1-20

You can’t go anywhere this time of year without noticing that there is something different going on here.  From the lighting of Michigan Avenue, more music than any one person can listen to in a month, Black Friday every week, a Michael Bublé Christmas concert, Bieber ruining a song forever, guaranteed pricing at Wal-Mart, and even Panera opening at the end of this month (Can I get a “wahoo”?), Christmas is everywhere!
But if you think it’s all “out there,” it’s also all over our campus — Party for the Kids, The Messiah, The Christmas Bizarre, Sounds of the Season, and Party with Baby Jesus. Christmas is everywhere.

All of these things are great, and remind me of the first Christmas, which wasn’t such a great celebration. Oh, I suppose you could technically say there were lights (hello, star!), music, and fanfare (hello, angel choir!). But it really started with a young couple showing up in a busy town, surrounded by busy people, sleeping in a stinky stable with stinky barn animals, and the only ones paying enough attention to show up were shepherds — who no one believed anyway!  Quite the beginning, right?

I’m not sure about you, but I’m so glad we’ve come as far as we have in how we celebrate Christmas. After 2000 years, we finally have it right. In the church, we decorate properly, sing properly, dress properly, and celebrate properly.  We know when to start playing the Christmas music (sort of), when to put up the decorations, when to take them down, and when and where to shop.  We never grow tired of singing the old carols, because you might only get to sing your favorite once a year, if you’re lucky.  Christmas is everywhere! I can’t speak for you, but I’m really glad to be celebrating now, and not then!

This week, don’t miss out on your chance to celebrate Christmas properly by hitting the new layaway plan at Wal-Mart, insisting on their lowest price guarantee through Christmas, listening to as much Christmas music as possible, and counting the days until the semester is over. Christmas is everywhere!

So close, yet so far.