God knows we all love Christmas. The food, the decorations, the traditions…it can be a fun and exciting time of the year for children of all ages. It is hard to contain all that fun and excitement into one day (Christmas Day) or eight days (the Octave of Christmas) or even twelve days (Christmastide). The fun and the excitement, and the celebrations and the preparations long ago spilled over into the season of Advent, which originally had very little to do with celebrating the Nativity and was mostly concerned with the Second Coming of Christ. Now, most people think of Advent as (at best) a season to prepare for Christmas or (at worst), Christmas itself. For years I struggled with what to do with Advent. As a good Anglo-Catholic, I want to be faithful to the tradition, but I also have to be honest and admit that I do like to have fun in December as well. Mostly I am tired of listening to clergy complain about how Advent has been lost to secular Christmas, so I am just not going to do it. I don’t think that we are going to be successful at getting people to stop celebrating Christmas before December 25th, and I am not sure that I even want to try. I have not given up on Advent though.
There just might be something to be said for preparing to celebrate Christ’s birth at the same time that we are talking about his Second Coming. We have been taught for years that we should be joyful at the Nativity and fearful at the Second Coming, but why must this be so? Perhaps God wants us to look to his Second Coming with the same joy and anticipation that we do with Christmas. Perhaps we need to be preparing for both in the same way. No child is afraid to open their presents on Christmas morning; if we truly love God and believe in his love, then we shouldn’t be afraid of the gifts he has for us either.
I have decided to stop complaining about Advent and to start celebrating Christmas early. But I won’t settle for starting as late as October, like the retail stores. I am going to start advocating that we start Christmas even earlier than that! September, August, July…nah, those months are for the late-comers. We should really start celebrating Christmas on December the 26th, that way each and every day of our lives would be a preparation for the coming of Christ. That way we could live in a perpetual Advent: always remembering the great gift that God has given us, and always looking forward to the great gift that he still has in store.
May this Advent season help you to prepare for the coming of Christ….the first one, and the second one.