I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.
Of course, as a kid I loved it. I used to always wake up way too early on the morning of Christmas in anticipation and feel tortured waiting for an appropriate time to leave my room.
I love the time with family, the season of weather (as much as an Arizona boy can,) I love the food and baked sweets my mom makes, the ideas of hope and peace on earth with the coming of Jesus.
But I’m also not crazy about some aspects of Christmas. I hate Christmas movies, hearing the same 1950’s version of every Christmas music (though I find the songs themselves to be compelling and beautiful,) the stress of gift buying and receiving, the unavoidable family drama, and the fleeting nature of all the good feelings of the season.
This isn’t a post about how as I’ve grown up I’ve become frustrated by the materialism of Christmas. This isn’t a post about how I’m frustrated about our culture “removing Christ from Christmas”.
This post is simply about wanting this year to be different, what I’m doing about it, and to invite others to join me.
This post is about Resurrection.
By Resurrection, I don’t mean Easter. That’s later. What I mean is the biblical idea of transformation and redemption through and after death. Resurrection means that something, (even something as meaningful as the Son of God,) dies, and something new and different and yet wholly familiar rises out of that death. This is what happens with Christ’s death and Resurrection, and what is offered to us as well. See the latter half of my 007 Skyfall post for a deeper look at this theme.
In a sense, I want to put to death Christmas, to see what comes back.
I’m gonna kill Christmas. Metaphorically. (Duh)
In a way, I think this is really fitting for the season of Advent. Most people think of Advent as the season that “counts down” to Christmas. I associated it with chocolate because my mom always bought us Advent calendars from Trader Joe’s where a piece of chocolate was hidden behind a little door corresponding to each day of December. (The chocolate never made it past December 10th.)
But Advent is about more than that. It’s about trying to inhabit and reenact the world that Jesus entered into the first time; a nation of Israel devoid of hope, doubting the promises and presence of God, experienced tyrannical rule after tyrannical rule; it’s hard to believe that God is on your side when your side never seems to “win”.
Advent is where we deal with our darkness. As a friend and fellow Fuller student has written, “We sit in the presence of great darkness waiting just like the Jewish people waited. We feel the captivity and oppression and injustice and pain and powerlessness and we stare it in the face and just wait with this giant looming expectation that maybe God will show up and do something.”
Advent is when we enter into our own darkness and create space there for Christ to enter in anew. Where we experience the “hopes and fears of all the years”. The light of the coming of Christ will shine brighter in the dark places, and, frankly, those are the types of places Christ is prone to going.
Bringing this back down to earth a little bit, I have a few ways I hope to do this. I’m reading a couple different books, to help spur some creativity. But my outlet will be this blog. I hope to write through Advent about what I’m thinking, reading, experiencing, and longing for this season.
For those interested, the books I’m reading are “Christmas: Festival of Incarnation” by Donald Heinz, and “The Liberation of Christmas” by Richard A. Horsley.
I’ll post something every few days. This is intentionally an increase in my blog productivity, as I want this season to be especially rich for me, and I want to challenge myself to think about it more and more. To make this a little easier on myself and my readers, though, I intend to make these posts noticeably shorter than my typical ones. (Promise.)
So please follow along. Share stories, thoughts, critiques, etc. I’ve learned so much about this season already just by reading the thoughts of my friends on their blogs, and on Fuller’s Advent Reflections page. This whole theology enterprise is just better done together.
I invite you, this Advent season, to enter into your darkness and await Christ’s incarnation. I invite you to journey with me as I enter into the darkness of Christmas itself, hoping to see an incarnation, a death and a Resurrection. Not because I want to deconstruct everything I believe or hope for, but because I truly believe there’s something better on the other side.