Overcoming Christmas overload, 1: Ramp up Advent

We know the drill. Christmas has become an emotional, financial and spiritual drag and a political football. Some well-meaning Christians want to decamp and reinvest the Epiphany — the older Christian celebration — with spiritual value and merriment. But I’m not quite ready for that.

Other want to invest Advent with more worth, but it is hard to get jazzed about “a little Lent” — what do you do, or not do? Is a moratorium on active Christmas celebrating that much different than what most people did until fairly recently, and which many people without means (and waiting for a last-minute check to “make the season bright”) live with. Is Advent a kind nose-against-shop-window affair?

No. Advent anticipates more than the sacred birth two millenia ago, though this would be enough for anyone who has ever waited for any good news against all hope. Advent also anticipates Christ’s second coming “in glory, to judge both the quick and the dead.”

Many Unitarian Universalists, and perhaps some United Church people, might wonder if “our people” ever believed such a thing. Taking out the sci-fi production values (or video games) we can imagine what the second coming might have been thought by the broader and more liberal Christians past and present, who tend to be post-millennial. That is, it is the common Christian responsibility to refashion the world, society and cultures to anticipate Christ’s return. More like preparing a feast and preparing for war.

Use Advent then as a time of preparation and taking stock. “What are the attributes Christ would expect to see upon the earth? What have I done, or have failed to do, to see these attributes — like peace, mutuality and grace — flourish?”

Better to think on these things than get wrapped up in extra cycles of consumption and stress.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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