This year Church in the Cliff is participating in Advent Conspiracy, which seeks to turn Christmas upside down, to remind us of the meaning of God coming into the world. Advent Conspiracy asks us to reconsider the consumerism of the Christmas season, to avoid the stress of malls, the debt of buying things we can’t afford, and the downright silliness of buying a bunch of stuff that people don’t need and probably don’t even want. Instead, we should spend our time and attention on the people that we love and direct our money to people who really need it. Above all, we should take seriously the in-breaking of the Divine into our lives and what that means for how we live with one another. These are all great things that I support without reservation. However, because I seem to be constitutionally incapable of playing nicely with others, I have to say that something is bugging me about Advent Conspiracy.
On the Advent Conspiracy website, there’s not a lot of pixels spent on Advent. It’s all about Christmas. I know that evangelicals like think they finally cracked the code on Christianity, but Advent has been around a long, long, long time. And it’s not about Christmas, at least, not entirely. But the really odd thing to me is that, if we pay attention to what Advent has always been, it gets right at what Advent Conspiracy is trying to do.
Though it passed without remark – my fault – last week was what is traditionally known as “Christ the King Sunday,” the Sunday before Advent. The patriarchal, hierarchical language gives me the willies, but what it signifies is, well, significant. Every year, the liturgical calendar rehearses the cycle of life. There is birth and there is death and there is re-birth. Beginnings always hurtle us towards ends and ends always lead to new beginnings. Advent is the fulcrum of that calendar. To use traditional language, Christ returns as the King to judge the world and to remake it. It is the end, the apocalypse, where all are held to account. This sounds scary and weird and I don’t believe a word of it. However, I do believe we need to take stock, to look at what we have done and who we have become, to see what is real so that we can understand the hope and promise of new life signified by the birth of Jesus in a few short weeks. Just as we can’t have Easter without Lent, we can’t really have Christmas without Advent.
I know it’s a downer. We want Christmas stories and carols and lights. We want wise men and angels and the little baby Jesus. We want Luke’s fabulous musical numbers. And we will have all that. We will. But we must wait, just a little bit. Judgment will yield to proclamation, proclamation will turn to anticipation, anticipation will turn to hope, and hope will turn to joy. Advent Conspiracy asks us to rethink Christmas: to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. Advent, in the long, long, long Christian tradition, makes it impossible to do otherwise.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we talk about what it might mean to “Worship Fully.” Heck, since we’re not really a praise chorus kind of church or a robe and stole kind of church, perhaps we can talk about what it means to worship at all, and inch up to “fully” as best we can. Remember, we will take up a special offering every Sunday during Advent to give to people who could really use it.
Grace and Peace,
Advent Craft Days
In an effort to help you spend less, we will be doing crafts at Kidd Springs Rec Center for the first three Saturdays in December from 10am to noon. We will make cards, lip balm, and soap to give as gifts to family and friends. Hope to see you there!
Chestnut Farms is a non-profit organic farm in Deep Ellum that CitC friend David Cole is involved in. They are growing on a quarter-acre that used to be a parking lot. As I understand it, they are still working out the details on how to serve the community and who to sell to, but right now they are harvesting a bunch of bok choy. David will be out there most Saturdays and would love some company. Looks like Saturday will be beautiful out. If you’d like to join David (after crafting, of course) shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Chestnut Farms is having a benefit concert, Dec. 21 at 8pm, featuring Folk Angel, Robbie Seay, and Lauren Chandler. Proceeds go to Grow Us, a partnership between Chestnut Farms and Champions of Hope.