Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Advent?

Credit: Gregory Walter (Occupy Advent)
The season after Thanksgiving has a name, and it is not Christmas.  Despite what Target would have you believe, Christmas has not yet arrived.  I went to Target last night to pick up a few things, and found that the entire back half of the store seemed to have exploded into a veritable cacophony of red and green and glitter and ribbon and beads and baubles.

This Sunday, December 2nd, marks the first day of Advent.  Advent is probably my favorite season in the liturgical year.  It is the start of the church year, in which we wait with joyous expectation for the coming of the incarnate Christ on Christmas.

With regards to holiday seasons, Advent gets perpetually skipped over.  Christmas is more exciting.  It is more fun to rush through the season of waiting because we are bad at being patient.  We want gratification and we want it now.  It is more fun to surround ourselves with things that are red and green, flavored with peppermint, and that comfort us in the midst of the darkest time of the year.

Advent is a season of darkness.  It is before the coming of the promise of Christ.  Waiting in the darkness is pretty countercultural to us now, but it was also countercultural to the first century Israelites who received a king that they never expected.  They wanted a fine king, in the Davidic tradition, but instead they got a infant born in a stable surrounded by farm animals, to a carpenter and a teenage mother.  Not your typical royal stock. And Jesus continued to smash assumptions throughout his life and through even his death on a cross. So just like those who received Jesus Christ at his first coming, we too await the arrival of a king who comes quietly and unexpectedly in the darkest time of the year.

The Occupy Advent movement blog, and their FaceBook site, is an interesting place to start.  Advent is outside our cultural norms.  What does it mean to wait for a blessing that we cannot even comprehend? What does it mean to trust that the promise will be fulfilled even if we can't understand how or why?

Luther Seminary (my soon-to-be home, as of about January 10th, 2013) publishes a daily meditation guide for Advent.   You can download it here.  This is how I will be shaping my spiritual life in this season of waiting.

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