Rector's Rhetoric - December 2015
A couple of weeks ago I was driving home and noticed that one of the neighbor’s in our hood had strung their Christmas lights and had them blinking to usher in a little holiday cheer. I thought to myself, “Well, we must be getting close to Thanksgiving.” Of course I would never begrudge anyone getting ahead of the crowd in bringing a little light into the darkness. I have to confess that ever since the time change, I’ve felt a twinge of melancholy with the sun now setting at 5:30pm, and if some people want to or need to focus on happy memories of Christmas and the warmth that comes with the season, then who am I to judge? Of course, Anglicans have always been staunch supporters of waiting until just before or right at Christmas to begin the festivities of trimming the tree, setting up the crèche and turning on the lights. Our attempt is to slow the movement toward Bethlehem, create an environment in which we can contemplate the great mystery of the Word made flesh and ask ourselves how “God with us” will change the way we live our lives in the coming year.
The problem is that we live in an impatient world, that grows more impatient with each passing year. And it’s an impatience that extends even when the Christmas season is just getting started—let’s kick the tree to the curb, take down the lights, the party’s over. Let’s get on with the next new thing that promises some semblance of happiness, however fleeting, when the truth is that we have twelve full days of celebration awaiting us if we’ll just slow down enough to acknowledge it.
I don’t know, perhaps my getting older has caused me to become an Advent/Christmas crank, but I still think it’s important to slow our lives down and learn to delay our gratification. It’s intentionally counter-cultural and it leads to a life of wellness and wholeness, both physically and spiritually. If you don’t believe me, then look no further than the Advent reading from this last Sunday, an encouragement to be aware, awake, ready. This kind of waiting requires an active patience, a refocusing of our attention to the things that really matter, the promises of God, and the hope that we might gain a vision of what God’s intention is for the world.
A good place to begin in Advent is to practice a greater awareness of our impatience. When am I impatient with myself? With other people? With God? Why am I eating or drinking more, spending money that I shouldn’t? or any other impatience that has to do with being immediately gratified. I’m not asking that you beat yourself up over this issue, but to simply acknowledge the truth, which will be the first and most important step to getting better.
A Blessed Advent and Christmas to You All.