Christmas: Why It Should Wait

advent-candles

I have never been shy about my love for Christmas; not just the day, but the whole season. It’s a magical, beautiful, stirring time given to draw us into the story of Christ’s coming.

In the past, I’ve been known to launch into Christmas music on November 1st. I once pondered if it was ok to start the tradition on October 25th, since it was an even 2 months prior to Christmas.

But over the past few years, I’ve had a change of heart. I now look to wait for the Christmas season a bit longer, at least until the season of Advent begins.

Why the change of heart?

There are a few reasons.

The first is that I’m more interested in the church calendar than I previously was. Currently, we are in what is called “Ordinary Time,” a season extending from Pentecost until Advent. Many of us may not have much knowledge of the church calendar. If not, check out this helpful article at Third Church to explain.

The beautiful season of Advent is quickly approaching. The word – advent – simply means “arrival” or “coming.” For Christians, it’s a word that speaks of the arrival/coming of Christ into the world (it also refers to his second advent/coming when all things are restored). We start the season of Advent on the 4th Sunday before Christmas and it runs through Christmas Eve. So its length varies a little each year.

I want to celebrate Christmas, very much so. But this also includes the waiting period; it includes the preparatory period we call Advent. And I want to celebrate it with God’s people, the community that is larger than I. I want to do so in reflection, contemplation, anticipation, hope and more.

I want to wait for Christmas to come.

I also believe that waiting for Christmas is a guard against the consumerism that has ravaged the world of America. On November 1st, all stores shift from a colorful display of black and orange to that of red and green. I currently head into a well-known coffee shop and they’ve already launched with their holiday cups, holiday blends and the jingles of the season playing.

America has also created one of the most consumeristic days in the history of humanity – Black Friday. It is a beast of a day for retailers. It used to be crazy when these stores would open at 5:00 or 6:00am on the day after Thanksgiving, but now some stores open at midnight of Thanksgiving Day, while others are simply open during Thanksgiving.

We live in a society of consumeristic “stuff” beyond anything the rest of the world knows.

And it’s no surprise that the church of modernist America has embraced the “spiritual” practice of consumerism itself. Yes, consumerism is very spiritual; it calls to our whole selves. I’m just not sure it’s a healthy practice. The church has become predominantly product-based (for consumers who already have) rather than servant-based (emptying ourselves on behalf of others who do not have).

If you have already put up your tree, hung lights, and plan to shop at Amazon or other outlets on Black Friday, am I offering a message of condemnation? No, not really. I’ve been there, done that.

But I am hoping we can reconsider the healthiness of our cultural practices a bit more. I’m deeply convinced we need to guard from consumerism. The church has always been called as an alternative community to what we can see and touch around us. Initially, Abraham was looking for a city and he didn’t believe he could actually see that city. I’m not always sure we see it today either.

Lastly, I desire to wait until Advent begins because I want to practice waiting. Part of the consumerist culture is that we gratify ourselves whenever we want – from food to Netflix to shopping to sex to all sorts of “stuff.” To practice waiting, even a little bit of waiting, is important. We simply don’t believe in waiting any longer. It’s too old-fashioned. But, in waiting, the prize is that much more enjoyable.

Perhaps Christmas can wait.

We wait for autumn and spring to slowly roll in.

Perhaps Christmas can wait.

We wait for the sun to peak its head or fall behind the horizon.

Perhaps Christmas can wait.

We wait as our children are slowly woven together in the womb.

Perhaps Christmas can wait.

We wait in line for our lattes and cold brews.

Perhaps Christmas can wait.

Let’s practice waiting. And while we wait, let’s do so with hopeful anticipation that Christ is truly coming. He did then – after a painfully long wait – and he will arrive now.

I believe Christmas can wait.

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One thought on “Christmas: Why It Should Wait

  1. Thank you, Scott! I’ve been silently thinking the same in my own way. I’m now officially an empty nester, single for many years and so looking forward to my new venture in life. I had thought that while living my busy life, raising my bio kids, adopted, foster……all the while solo parenting past 25yrs, that I had still maintained the intimacy, the waiting during the Holidays etc. Not so! Things are quiet enough now and your post was great timing for me. I tell all my kids, grandkids…MoM/Nana is doing Nana for a while now. They know me well enough to know that means me, The Father, Lord, Holy Spirit. Oh, at 59yrs old I’ve been through all the seasons of my mind regarding the true birth season, the reasons for each event, the dislike of consumerism…… all in silence hidden away within me while occasionally and methodically allowing myself to be shuffled about. What you have shared I consider truth, simple and yet so powerful. I like simple 🙂 I shall enjoy this Holiday to the fullest extent of the Father with great expectations of our coming Lord. I am a “Farmher”, simple, down to earth, gently seasoned and I found you accidently (yeah right :0 ) several years ago…been following you since. Thanks for sharing your heart, thoughts, beliefs, wisdom…..of which I gratefully appreciate. Blessings, Robin

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