Happy New Year! Today is the first day of advent.
Rev. Weedon has an excellent homily for the first Sunday in Advent. The first Sunday of Advent also coincides with the commemoration of St. Andrew the Apostle.
Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It is a penitential season like Lent. It is a time for recognition of your sins. If it were not for your sins there would be no need for Christmas. During Advent we prepare for the second coming of the Lamb while we prepare for the celebration of the first coming of the Lamb.
Our culture and even many churches are not very interested in Advent. Advent ends up getting swallowed up into the Christmas season. The Christmas season begins December 25th and ends January 6th when Epiphany is celebrated.
Of course the marketability of Advent is pretty low. You can sell people a few Advent wreaths, an Advent calendar, and maybe a book. But the big money is in Christmas. Lots and lots of toys and decorations can be sold. If people are fasting its hard to sell them food. Gorging during Advent is probably more common than fasting. Christmas is more marketable in the church too.. Christmas is much more upbeat and you can do topical sermons on how to cope during Christmas or use it as a time to get people to donate to your favorite charity. You can make references to movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" and talk about how good or bad your wife's cooking is.
A Christmas without Advent has the same problems as an Easter without Lent. It might get the family together eating and gorging themselves but the Lamb serves no purpose--he's merely an excuse to get together and feel happy (or get in fights). The Lamb did not come so that you could gather around a fire and sing "Let it Snow." Have you ever thought about how self-centered that song is? Since WE'VE got no place to go, let it snow, to hell with everyone else. Our culture begins the Christmas season on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Christmas is celebrated by killing and injuring others to get the best deal. Christmas is celebrated as a season of self-interest and looking out for number one. The Lamb did not come to this world in self-interest. The Lamb came in your interest. The Lamb came to sacrifice Himself for you.