Saturday, December 10, 2005

"'TIS THE SEASON..."

"...to be jolly." That would be the Christmas season, technically. And that season has not yet arrived. Technically, we're in the season of Advent for two more weeks--right up through Christmas Eve. We're carefully preparing our hearts, making room for the "arrival." That's if you care to observe ancient church tradition. Commercially, however, it's "Christmastime in the city." In the stores. In the ads. On the radio airwaves...

TWO RHYTHMS OF CHRISTMAS. There are two primary rhythms for celebrating Christmas. The one most of us know is the Christmas season that begins with Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and finishes on Christmas Day. The rhythm fewer know--and still few observe--begins with four weeks of soul-searching preparation in Advent, highlights with Christmas Day communion (the Mass of Christ, i.e., Christ-mas), and extends through Epiphany on January 6th (celebrating the arrival of the Magi at Bethlehem). This rhythm gives us the tradition of giving a gift on each of the 12 days of Christmas.

CHRISTMAS RUSH. Most of us who know of the more ancient tradition but accommodate the more secular/commercial Christmas do so with mixed feelings. We cross this border daily during the weeks of December. We try to live in the rhythm of Advent, attempting to hold off untimely outbursts of "Joy to the World" until Christmas Eve, only to find ourselves indulging the crowd that can't wait for Santa Claus to come to town.

IN HOPES OF BEING WAYLAID. Advent observers risk coming off sounding like little Ebenezer Scrooges when we chide: "It's not yet Christmas. You're rushing things!" But we eat Christmas cookies and relish the taste of eggnog like all those premature revelers! Still, in our hearts we are trying to lay low, to make room, to wait in anticipation...in hopes of being once again waylaid by that fantastic news: God has come in love as a babe to save us all! Hallelujah!

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