Entering Advent 2008

November 29, 2008

church / culture / spirituality

As we enter into the Advent season, I want to provide something to contemplate. As I posted previously, the Atlanta Emergent Cohort recently hosted an event called tnevdA, a reversal of the traditional 25 day countdown to Christmas.

The event was a beautiful evening of worship and thought. I’ve written occasionally about my experiences with the Advent season, which has typically in the past been less meaningful for me than some. In any case, the event was in many ways based on the following quote from Soren Kierkegaard.

“The Christmas Celebration is really a heresy – that is as it is now observed. It goes together with the whole enormous illusion of an established Christendom… Ultimately all of Christendom’s little morsel of Christianity is swallowed up by Christmas and its Christmas cookies… [Yet] for the most part, this is the one and only emphasis of Christmas, turning Christianity completely upside-down.”

Reading and re-reading this over the past several days has allowed the quote to enter into my mind and re-frame some of my thoughts on the Christmas season. It states many of the frustrations that I have had, which is great.

But the powerful thing about it, for me, is that it allows for Advent to subvert the Christmas season the way that it is practiced in Christendom. We can remove the illusion of Christendom – which in today’s America is inextricably linked to consumerism and greed, resulting in things like the trampling death of retail employees to get to cheaper Christmas crap – and we can enter the loneliness and darkness of what is really needed in a season of waiting.

In essence, then, I’m not honestly concerned with Buy Nothing Day, Make Something Day, or Black Friday in the course of our holiday seasons; I’m concerned with the lifestyle and attitude that is underneath. I’m concerned with how to get rid of consumerism in my life – how to move deeper into intentional simplicity and subversive life that incarnates the kingdom of Jesus, and I hope that as we move toward this season I can hear what is being spoken to me about these things.