The radical Hope of Advent... something we all need... even Santa.
There are so many things that I love about the Christmas season. Among them the food, the gifts, the decorating, the lights, the stories, the movies...! It is a season that I am always eager to lean into.
So much of it rekindles my imagination of being a child and seeing that same imaginative wonder being forged in my own children.
But there is a struggle for me. A struggle with how this Christian season of Advent fits in with our very commercialized Christmas season.
I wonder if there is any mutual benefit or is it just a clearly separate celebration. There is my celebration of the secular part of the holidays and then there is my deeply formed religious experience.
But it is hard to do that because everything is overlapped.
I am conflicted because deep down I really love how the secular holiday season makes me feel. Just now I started thinking about eggnog and National Lampoon's Christmas vacation and my heart got really happy.
Though a part of me wonders if the secular celebration keeps me from experiencing how radical the Advent season actually is.
The Advent season calls us to imagine that something good is coming out of the darkness. It is a season that gives us hope when life seems bleak.
One of the scriptures we read during Advent comes from Isaiah where he prophesies a day that "swords will be turned into plowshares." And that one day our enemies will be our allies and we will worship together. Really? We believe this stuff just about as much as we believe that Santa's sleigh delivers presents all over the world Christmas Eve (now everyone is mad at me?). But to say that there will be a day when we will turn our weapons that signify death into farming tools that signify life seems a tad bit far fetched? But Santa doesn't?
That is the beauty of Advent. It is radical. It is real. It calls us to carry real hope in something we can't see and incredibly hard to fathom.
At the end of the day, I don't know if celebrating the holidays with all the things that come with it necessarily needs to leave for us to have hope.
But most definitely Advent should deepen our sense of hope in the disparaging circumstances we all face and the resolve that they will not have the last word.
Litany for the first week of Advent
Loving God my reality says there is no hope
You turn our weapons to plowshares
The ceaseless conflict have made us bitter
You call us to peace and healing
We all claim that we carry the truth
You call us all to a new mountain
We believe our enemies will one day defeat us
You say one day we will feast
We think weapons will give us peace
You said a child will be born
For those who suffer
Lord Jesus, Comfort
For those hurt by war
Living Christ, Peace
For those tattered by cynicism
Those hurt by the church
Kindness and healing
Those covered in shame