Monday, December 3, 2012

The War on Advent

This is the time of year when Christians in America feel that they are being persecuted because the cashier did not wish them a Merry Christmas. The fact of the matter is that it's not even Christmas. It seems like they should be upset that they are not being wished blessed Advent. The Christian celebration of Christmas begins on December 25th and lasts for 12 days. The secular celebration of Christmas seems to start earlier every year. It used to start right after Thanksgiving but now seems to start some time before Halloween. The secular celebration of Christmas is not about the celebration of the birth of Christ but about the buying of merchandise, Santa Claus, family get-togethers, snow, and sentimental songs about the season. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of these things but there's nothing inherently Christian about them either. The retailers make most of their money during this time and so it makes sense that they would want to extend the season prior to the time on Black Friday when Americans follow their "Thanksgiving" by trying to kill one another for a television set or gaming system. When the retail store says, "Merry Christmas" it means the same thing as when it says "Happy Holidays." Both phrases translate to, "Have a great time buying lots of stuff."

In America, the problem as far as Christmas goes is not with the retail outlets. The problem is with the church following the lead of the retail outlets. The church may say, "Merry Christmas" but it often means little more than family get-togethers, snow, and thinking about how cute baby Jesus is. Much of American Christianity is anti-liturgical and does not follow the liturgical calendar. There is no command in Scripture to follow the liturgical calendar. But things seem to go terribly wrong when churches decide to not follow the liturgical calendar except for Christmas and Easter without celebrating Advent or Lent. The penitential seasons are done away with. People may agree that Jesus was crucified but they worship the resurrected Christ never mind what Paul said about preaching nothing but Christ crucified. The significance of Christmas and Easter are both diminished without Advent and Lent. People sing empty and meaningless carols and think about how thankful they are to be with family. Those who have lost family members who are suffering from tragedy feel left out Some churches will have special programs to try to lure people into the church through a play that makes them feel good.

Rather than complaining that the retail outlets are taking Christ out of Christmas, why not call upon the church to stop taking Christ out of Christmas while it wishes you a Merry Christmas? The one year lectionary starts Advent by telling about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem where He went to be crucified for you. Jesus was born to die for you. He wasn't born so that you could stand around and talk about how cute He is and tell people that we give gifts just like God gave Jesus to the world. He wasn't born so that your church could put on Christmas plays to lure people in. If your church celebrates Christmas, ask them why they don't celebrate Advent. Advent not only anticipates the birth of Christ but the second coming of Christ. It doesn't look in the headlines trying to find some hidden code to show we are living in the end times. It is a realization that we are already in the end times and a call to prepare for the second coming of Jesus. It doesn't look for the coming of a Jesus who is absent but a Jesus who has promised to be with us until the end--a Jesus who gives us His very body and blood in the Lord's Supper. Demand that your church put the Mass back into Christmas and give you Christ's body and blood on Christmas and every Sunday. Demand that your church give you a real Christ who did not come to set an example but came to do what you cannot do and died for you. If they will not give you these things, find some church that will and stop caring about the greeting the guy gives you at the retail store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is excellent, Chuck. Love Mom