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It Isn’t Christmas Yet

I’ll never forget the look on the woman’s face. It was a cross between Oscar the Grouch and a lemon that had been forgotten in the back of the fruit bin.

“I didn’t like your sermon today!” she snapped.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you preached on repentance, and this is Christmas,” she growled. “Christmas is about joy!”

“But it isn’t Christmas,” I replied, as patiently as I could. “It’s Advent.”

The woman looked at me as if I needed to take up selling appliances instead of preaching, and stormed off in a huff.

Our culture is anxious to celebrate Christmas early. Before we can even haul the jack-o-lanterns off our porches, the TV is blaring holiday commercials and the store aisles are glittering with tinsel. A number of houses in my neighborhood were aglow with Christmas lights a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.

Advent is waiting time – and we don’t like to wait. We hate to wait. Why sit still with God when we can get instant thrills¬†at a holiday party or Cyber Monday sale?

This is why I believe Advent isn’t as popular as Christmas: it’s a reminder that there is work involved to arrive at the joy for which we so desperately long. Advent tells us that there is no insight without reflection; no renewal without repentance; no relationship without sacrifice. These four weeks before December 25 invite us to pray, serve, and slow down while everyone else is moving at warp-speed. That doesn’t sound very Christmas-y, does it?

It isn’t. It’s not supposed to be. Remember: Christmas did not instantly materialize with heavenly glory and angel song. It came after centuries of bondage and banishment, emerging from the groans of a people who longed for the arrival of Messiah. Prophecies of a Suffering Servant and a lowly King on a donkey lay dormant for ages and then. . .

An angelic birth announcement.

A Babe in a manger.

Shepherds rushing to Bethlehem.

This Advent, let us experience the long, slow, sometimes uncomfortable process that leads to the Child. If we go down the fast-track cultural route, we will miss Christmas altogether, even as we’re surrounded by family and festivity.

Comments(2)

  1. Reply
    Rosanne Woolf says

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your Advent Devotional Just One Word!
    You gave such a wonderful presentation several years ago here at Cheney UMC.
    Thank You!

    • Reply
      Mark Winter - One Man Show Ministries says

      Thank you so much, Rosanne! Have a blessed Christmas!

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