Call me a scrooge, but sometimes the constant happiness surrounding the Christmas season just makes me want to say, “Oh Come On!” (or at least, that’s what I imagine a modern iteration of “Bah Humbug!” would be).
And the thing is, I LOVE Christmas. I love the lights, the candles in lunch bags, decorating the tree, watching cheesy rom-coms, and all the cookies that go along with it.
But I don’t love how the cheery portrayal of the season doesn’t match up with the angry consumers that trample other people on Black Friday every year, or that it doesn’t line up with those suffering from seasonal depression, or those struggling with mental health in general.
In other words, our world has a LOT of issues and the constant happiness of the Christmas season sometimes feels like applying a cartoon band-aid to a gunshot wound; it won’t heal the wound, and it seems absolutely silly.
Thank God for the Advent Season
Advent is a season that happens before Christmas day in the Christian church that focuses on what the world is longing for: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.
Advent recognizes that our world has a lot of issues, but that hope, peace, joy, and love can still be had in the midst of suffering or worry when we look for the light in the darkness.
Advent doesn’t ignore the wrong things of the world; it recognizes their effect on us as individuals, as a community, and it gives us tools to help us navigate through the dark through the hope of a brighter future where all wrongs will be righted, the peace in being ruled by a worthy and righteous King, through the joy of the message of redemption, and through the love of a God who has felt our sorrow and lifts us up.
I’m not saying that you’ll be able to sing along cheerfully to every Christmas song or hymn during this Advent season, but I think that when we acknowledge the wrong of the world while processing what it means that we have a savior, we will at least be able to hope for better days, and a better world.
If you have never observed advent before, I invite you to try it out this year. I can’t promise that it will be meaningful to you, but I believe it to be meaningful to the world when Christ’s body on earth continues Christ’s engagement with the suffering of the world while striving after Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love*. And I feel like that is one of the things that Advent can teach us: It’s not about you, as an individual, it is about the body of Christ longing for Christ’s presence on this earth in answer to the world’s sin and afflictions.
*For the purpose of my church, I will be following the weekly themes that we observe in our own tradition. Other churches may have these same themes, but in a different order, while others may have completely different ones.
Note: Advent is not a biblically observed season or holiday, much like Christmas, Lent, and Easter, but it has been observed in church tradition, with the others, because the church has found meaning in joining the prophets in longing for a savior.