First Sunday in Advent
The season of Advent is here, preceded as usual by the advent of Christmas trees, colourful lights, and the ubiquitous flyers and TV ads proclaiming "shop early, shop often." I used to think that this "glowing" of capitalism-manufactured joy was at least convergent with the true Spirit-given joy of the season. After all, when the light recedes in the Northern hemisphere, and things get generally drab and grey, there's something magical about the colours that come out during these late days of November. But since beginning to reflect on Advent, not as the four Sundays leading to December 25 (turkey, family, presents...), but as a season of preparation and self-examination, things feel very different. Like the brilliant folks who appointed the day-after-US Thanksgiving as "buy nothing day" as subversion of consumerist capitalism, Advent, I think, is subversive of the whole "Christmas season." (Do we Christians need to be reminded that Christmas begins on December 25 and extends well beyond the hangovers and boxing day sales?). Imagine engaging in self-examination, especially of our North American complicity in creating such an unequal world, while passing by signs proclaiming "shopping is good." What would Jesus do were he to return in the midst of "Christmas season"? Personally, that scares the bejeebers out of me. It's time to pray--for myself, for the witness of the church, and for the world.
There's a good piece on Advent by Robert Webber, excerpted from his Ancient and Future Time available here.