We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rethinking the Christimas Craze

Sometimes I get irritated with the mad push for Christmas.

The local Christian radio station started playing Christmas music last week. The stores have pulled out all the holiday merchandise and the city decorations have begun to appear. Why can’t we wait for the holiday to arrive before we celebrate it?

This is a bit of a cliché gripe, I know. Everyone loves complaining about how early the Christmas rush begins. I love complaining about it, too. It is an easy shot to take and does make us feel a bit "superior". But there is something truly symptomatic in it, isn't there?

All this craziness seems to me to reflect the spiritual state of our culture. Despite what we may hear and read, I believe the Christmas Craze is evidence of the desire for spiritual fulfillment for believer and non-believer alike: the coming of the Savior. We are anxious for the future: both near (Christmas) and distant (Second Coming). It is so tempting to begin the celebrations early! This is not an altogether bad desire – it reveals the Christian's hope. However, it does become a distraction when it overshadows the work that must be done before both those long-awaited days of the Savior's appearance. Both of these events require seasons of preparation – Advent. To skip these might leave us unready to fully welcome the Savior.

In the past, I’ve found myself trying so hard to avoid all Christmas celebrations until Christmas was really here. I was determined to observe a good Advent season. Our culture makes this almost impossible – and in fact it was for me. But, now I’m not sure this is really necessary or preferable. I still maintain that a thoughtful Advent observance heightens the celebration of Christmas; however, Advent can be enhanced by appreciating a taste of the joy awaiting us. It awakens our hearts a bit and makes them yearn even more for the end of Advent, both the seasonal and the eternal!

My family will continue our usual Advent traditions, maintaining our focus on this season of preparation. However, we’ll also enjoy those moments of festivity knowing that the full celebration is yet to come and allowing the yearning for that celebration to grow! And instead of griping about the premature and over-the-top Christmas celebrations, I’m going to focus on being thankful for this proof of the desires deep in the hearts of us all.

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