New Year: New Blog
“We hold the feast of the apostle Andrew in Christendom as the first in the Year…”
I was going to post the following as a comment on another blog until I realized that I was in agreement with the original post with only one subtle difference: I think we should be Advent Nags. Here’s a link to the original post on Praying With Evagrius.
I can understand the secular world preparing for Xmas by getting product in line to be sold. We do need to purchase our gifts and decorations before we wrap them and put them up. I can even see saying happy Xmas to someone during Advent, as you may not see that person before Xmas and it should be a happy one. Santa should be jolly and expected on Xmas eve. Just, please don’t equate this with a Christmas celebration or bring this in to the church.
Advent is such an important season. It’s a time of fasting and repentance. A time to concentrate on the last four things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. I love Christmas, but I know the difference between Christmas and Xmas. Xmas Belongs to the world. Christmas belongs to the Church. Just as the Crucifixion is necessary for the Resurrection, so is Advent necessary for Christmas. As the orthodox say Oh! Blessed Fall! Advent is a time to remember that what we justly deserve is the present and eternal punishment of our Lord, and that Jesus is coming to bring that judgment upon us. Let’s not be like the foolish virgins off celebrating Xmas. Christmas is the miracle that that judgment, that death, is presented to us in the form of a helpless and loving baby. The baby that Stephen, the Holy Innocents and John gave their lives for.
I was in Macy’s yesterday. Most of the decorations are up, but Santa won’t be there until Thanksgiving. Even so I stood under the sign that flashed “Believe.” I couldn’t help but wonder in what does Macy’s want me to believe. I asked a handful of employees. “Believe in Macy’s.” All you need to believe at the Xmas season is Macy’s. To believe in Christmas One must believe in the incarnation of God in his death and resurrection, in the promise of the world to come.
I sometimes can be heard singing Christmas carols in the summer, and I even slip every now and then in Lent, but consider what is lost when we skip the wonderful Hymns and songs of Advent. How much richer are the twelve days of Christmas when we’ve prepared for them with: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, But For You Who Fear My Name, O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People, Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Macht Hoch Die Tür, Intonent hodie (on Saint Nicholas Day), Gabriel’s Message, Hark the Glad Sound! the Savior Comes, Joseph and Mary (The Cherry Tree Carol)? How much more meaningful are Saint Stephen’s Day and Holy innocents when we hear The Wren Song and the Coventry Carol sung for the first time this year?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll probably be singing Fairytale of New York as I walk home from Midnight Mass, and I’ll have enjoyed songs about cold, snow, sleigh rides and skating through out the frigid nights of Advent, but I’ll be celebrating the New Year for four weeks as I remember my mortality, and my lust for Hell, that I deserve God’s judgment, and the promise of heaven. Thank God for Advent, the Incarnation, Epiphany, Jesus’ Death, and Resurrection, Pentecost, and all of our feasts and commemorations in their proper seasons. When we keep the season of Advent in the world as well as the church we are united with the poor, the stressed, the estranged. We can sit with them and be judged. We can take them by the hand to the manger on Christmas eve. When they ask us “What is Christmas?” We can tell them because we’ve been with them.