Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent is not just for Catholics

"Some Protestants oppose observing Advent because it sounds “too Catholic.” I see where they get it, what with candles, colors, rituals, metaphor and all. But this misses the point, and it denies worshippers the opportunity to experience rich, fervent spiritual evidence of God’s active, redemptive presence in the world.

Ironically, some of the Christians who complain the loudest about the commercialization of Christmas and the secularization of the season miss out on an excellent opportunity to counter those forces when they decline to observe Advent.

That points to the reason we need Advent so desperately this year. It’s counter-cultural. Sure, pushing against commercialism and secularism is part of it. But those concepts, while obvious, are sidelights compared to the primary issue.

Advent tells us to wait. It reminds us we’re not in control; God is. Advent provides a structure for remembering that the world waited in lonely cosmic exile until the Messiah, Jesus, arrived to redeem us from our sins and the morass of our own making. And Advent suggests what was true 2,000 years ago remains true today. We do not set the agenda for our lives; God does.

We live in a society that hates to wait. That’s because we inherently believe we -- individually, each of us -- are most important. We want to microwave our lives so what we desire happens immediately. We want gratification now. This is a symptom of deep-set selfishness as old as Adam and Eve and as current as Washington gridlock, the latest financial scandal and the newest petulant media or sports superstar.
The one issue Americans seem to agree on is that our society is in decline. The skids have been greased by selfishness. The demand to get what I want and to get it now is but a symptom of epidemic egotism that refuses to consider the common good. So we need to be reminded we are not the center of the universe; God is. Waiting is a good discipline for learning that lesson.

Take a deep breath. Light an Advent candle.

And wait."

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