This afternoon’s post for the Advent series: Jesus is Coming How Do We Draw Near? is from Thomas Turner Senior Editor, Literary Arts at GENERATE Magazine. He is also an adjunct professor of English at Nyack College. He blogs at Everyday Liturgy. and recently had an article published on fasting during Advent published in Christian Reflection? It also includes a small group curriculum. “The Advent Fast” (study guide)
We are no strangers to time. We see it when our alarms go off, when the chicken is ready, when we’re late for work, when we’re counting down days or watching them pass slowly by as we sit sick on the sofa. We mark our important days by calendars and years, so that we don’t lose track. We have school years, fiscal years, calendar years and election years. We have the seasons to tell us when to plant and harvest, and Memorial Day and Labor Day to tell us when our more artificial seasons start and end. Lost in all of this is what we are all gathered here for, what we cherish most: where is the church’s calendar, the liturgical year, in all of this?
Luckily, Advent marks the beginning of the church’s year. The Christian year begins with Advent, a time of hopeful waiting before God. The Christian year, like our other years, brings order to our life, but instead of ordering when we have classes or when we need to vote the Christian year orders how we are to growing and living out our faith. The Christian year is a grand story, a great drama that unfolds year after year, continually calling us to live out the Gospel in our worship and lives.
Now that Advent is upon us, we would be wise to let the power of this season affect our spiritual lives. Advent is a season of meditation on the Messiah who has come and will come again. In Advent we journey with people of God in our anticipation for the King who will come as Immanuel and our anticipation of Christ’s return to establish his eternal kingdom.
We would be wise to let this season work on our hearts. It is a season of hopeful waiting. It is not a season of celebration, tons of parties and splurging on gifts. Advent teaches us to reject this pattern of the world, the consumption and overblown materialism that is evident in our culture’s infatuation with a Christmas that is not about a coming King but about the Almighty Dollar.
Christ spoke wisely when he said that we cannot serve both God and Money. During this season, when we are called to humble ourselves before the King who has come and will come again, the powers of this world have suppressed this message with the celebration of materialism and consumption. Let us turn from this and draw close to Christ. In drawing close to him, we identify with and proclaim God’s narrative of love in a counter-cultural way.
May we resist the instant gratification, materialism and gluttony that are the hallmarks of our culture’s Christmas and for the rest of this Advent season meditate on how the coming of our Lord to this earth, and his eventual return, calls us to a deeply radical way of living.