Whither Advent?

Jeff Munroe

READ : 1 Kings 19

But the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (v. 12 KJV)

I’ve been writing about Advent for a few weeks now, but I have to admit my real belief. Advent doesn’t mean much. It is by and large a victim of Christmas. That sounds funny to say, but it’s true. Many Christians fret about “taking Christ out of Christmas,” but I have a feeling faithful people will always remember and celebrate the true meaning of the season. But Advent? It’s in trouble.

It’s hard to embrace a season of penitence when you are constantly on the go. Like Lent, Advent traditionally included fasting. That’s hard to imagine amid the whirl of holiday parties, lights, shopping, putting up a tree, decorating, children’s programs, holiday specials, Christmas baking, and incessant holiday music on our car radios. It’s hard to wait for Christmas when it’s already everywhere. Faithfully observing Advent requires a restraint virtually unknown in our culture.

My pastor speaks often during this time of year about “turning off the Christmas machine.” Can you unplug Christmas enough to experience Advent? I find it helpful to remember the example of Elijah in the wilderness—how God was not in the wind or earthquake or fire, but came as a “still small voice.” Advent is a call for us to listen, to slow down, to escape the holiday frenzy that can seem like wind, earthquakes, and fire in order to hear God’s quiet, calm voice. Let’s try to put Advent back into Advent.

PRAYER

Give us the wisdom to listen.