The Incredibly Shrinking Season of Advent

We have incredibly shrinking airline seats, middle class, paychecks, computers, glaciers, and even, it seems, our planet Articles have been written about each of the above. But so far I have not come across an article on our incredibly shrinking Advent.

News flash! Advent is not only shrinking incredibly. Advent has almost disappeared from our day to day consciousness.

It is much easier to find articles about the rush of the shopping seasons. We hear complaints about the Christmas shopping season beginning earlier each year. We don’t hear about the loss of advent.

Has anyone noticed the demise of Advent?

Has anyone noticed? Santa’s coming to town is more anticipated than the birth of Jesus. To paraphrase a question… Has anyone noticed the demise of Advent? Sure, we who still gather in Eucharist, are reminded on each of the four Sundays of Advent, especially on the third Sunday with it special vestments. But few seem to have noticed Advent’s passing.

In a way, it is probably symbolic that the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Squares was hoisted into place before most people in the United States, home of secularized religious holidays and habits, had even put their Thanksgiving Day turkey in the oven. For a Church that has long relied on spreading the faith through its effective use of powerful signs and symbols, this is not a very encouraging image.

What have we lost to the Christmas rush?

I suggest it means that we have lost a sense of wonder at what took place in God becoming one of us, showing us by words and ultimately action that we are one with God and one another.

Just think of that. We are called to be and become the body of Christ! Talk about a revolutionary and systemic change.

It means that rather than realizing the radical message of hope and light in a world filled with darkness and oppression we have given up looking for the ultimate light. We look for the bright shiny objects nearby. We stop short of looking squarely at the darkness in the world today to see the light shining in the darkness.

This is nothing new. Few other than the shepherds, angels and wise men saw the first signs of the kingdom in the little infant in a manger. Two thousand years later we are still struggling to read the signs of God’s nascent presence in our lives.

What Can We Do?

During this Advent season may I suggest a modest approach to recovering the sense of our radical  Advent hope. May we look for the signs of God’s presence gestating in our midst today. In these coming weeks lets look for signs of Christ’s coming in the care we show to one another as the body of Christ. Let look for those who show us in the midst of the nitty-gritty of their lives that they understand how great a change in human consciousness Christ’s birth was.

Let us listen to the sights and sounds of Jesus stirring in the wombs of our own lives.

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