Keeping Advent out of Christmas

Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent. Keeping Advent involves a time of waiting and preparation. Often this preparation and waiting gets linked to the Christmas season. As a result you’ll hear people talking about keeping Christmas out of Advent. This is a good practice. There is so much rush associated with the Christmas season, which seems to become more intense every year, that Advent can easily be overrun.

Keeping Advent Sermon:

I’d like to suggest that as well a keeping Christmas out of Advent we should be keeping Advent out of Christmas. Let me explain. Traditionally, the waiting associated with Advent is for Christ’s second coming not his first. As such Advent is just as much if not more so, properly connected back to the Reign of Christ that immediately precedes it.

The Reign of Christ reminds us that Christ’s kingdom has already begun. (Revelation 11:15). Advent reminds us that while wait for the fulfillment of this kingdom we are already living as members of it. As such, in our Advent waiting we seek to become more attuned to the priorities of Christ’s kingdom.

Here, the themes of Advent can serve as guideposts for our waiting and preparation. There are many themes that have built up around Advent. The most common of the modern themes though, are: hope, peace, joy, and love.

These themes certainly connect with Christmas. Yet they also fit just as well with the Reign of Christ. Especially if we see them as more than simply sentiments, but instead view them as characteristics of the inaugurated kingdom.

The first two verses of this weeks’s Gospel reading speak of people being confused, adn fainting from fear and foreboding (Luke 21:25-26)

25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (NRSV)

When we think of the four themes of hope, peace, joy, and love, they are at odds with confusion, fear, and foreboding. Keeping Advent calls us to live out these kingdom values as a sign to the world that things do not have to be the way they are. We live in a world where kingdoms are maintained by violence, terror, and war. The fight against such kingdoms is generally carried out by the same methods.

Keeping Advent in light of the Reign of Christ, reminds us that the ending of such kingdoms come through living into the hope, peace, joy, and love, that exists in Christ our King whose reign began on a cross.

St. Philip's Advent wreath
The Advent wreath at St. Philip’s

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