Readers, this season is a time of struggle for me. As I shared in my post a few days ago, the Advent season is upon us, according to the Church calendar. But according to the world around me, it is Christmastime.
Anyone else out there having a hard time leaving Christmastime behind and clinging to Advent right now?
I firmly believe that culture is the hinge to unlock the door of the heart (see my very first post here from March 2011). And so I have been ruminating on the idea of the day-after-Thanksgiving-to-December-25th Christmas cultural phenomenon. For the most part, it revolves around Santa and presents and putting up decorations and ‘Advent’ calendars with chocolate each day, etc. For many years I’ve tried the Christian bandaid–making the season from the day-after-Thanksgiving-to-December-25th really about Jesus and not about the secular hoopla. I feel like that’s sort of what the local Christian radio station is doing: repackaging the day-after-Thanksgiving-to-December-25th so that it fits into a Christian worldview.
For those who love this Christmas season or who think I lean toward radicalism (read “my sister” here), please believe me that I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (Or should I say, the Baby out with the tinsel?) I value American culture even though a lot of it seems past redemption. I have warm fuzzies when I think of movies like Home Alone (specifically the first one) and turning on traditional Christmas carols as my family and I decorate the Christmas tree (on the 4th Friday of November, usually). And there are songs with great Gospel messages about hope and peace to the world that I like, even if not explicitly ‘Christian.’ So I have been riding the fence about listening to Christmas music and getting into the ‘Christmas spirit’ a little bit–not all the way, mind you. I’m trying to be a good Anglican.
This morning as I was listening to a secular radio station with Christmas music, I was thinking about this, my struggle, to embrace both the day-after-Thanksgiving-to-December-25 Christmas culture and the historically Christian season of Advent (see my previous post here). And I felt God speak gently to my heart that most often the way of Life in Him is counter-cultural. Leave it to God to speak things to me that I already know…but somehow it made a little more sense that it ever has before. (Thank you, Lord.)
And so today I have been challenged to truly make this Advent season devoted to preparing my heart for His second coming as we will celebrate His first coming in the Feast of the Incarnation (aka Nativity). I convinced my husband (pretty easily) to invest his Christmas music money into an Advent music playlist. Since we’re both music people, this is one of the main ways we will be focusing our hearts on preparing for Jesus’ second return. That means that from now until Christmas Eve, I will not be listening to traditional Christmas carols (without being a jerk about it, hopefully). And when I miss Bing’s White Christmas and my Ella Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas album, I will be turning my attention to Jesus and our world’s (and my own) desperate need for Him to come into our hearts in a fuller way and for Him to come back.
Pray for me.
Oh, and here’s our Advent Playlist in an Excel document, if anyone is interested in making one of their own. By Advent songs, I mean songs that anticipate or express the longing of the human heart for salvation, and the hope we have the Christ will return.