by Charles A. Collins, Jr.
Late on the evening of October 31, I was headed home from a Halloween gathering with friends when I stopped off by a drug store near my house to pick up a few items. I run in there every few days and couldn’t help but notice that the copious Halloween goods that had been on display had now been replaced by Christmas goods — and it wasn’t quite November yet. At least one local radio station went to an around-the-clock Christmas music format just a few days later.
Much is made each year of the “war on Christmas.” Creeping political correctness seeks to marginalize the importance of Jesus’ birth to avoid offending those who may not celebrate the holiday; thus Christmas festivals are renamed “Winter Festivals” and the ACLU attacks nativity scenes on public property (some Christians even complain about the fairly innocuous abbreviation “X-mas,” although in the interest of full disclosure the Greek letter Chi has often been used as shorthand for “Christ” — and one examining the notes that I’ve written in the margin of my Bible would note that I use it myself). While those things concern me to some extent, I find that our culture is in danger of going to another extreme that is fraught with its own perils — that of rushing headlong into Christmas (sometimes from commercial motives) and forgetting the Advent season altogether.
Advent — that season that commences the church year preceding Christmastide — is an important gift, as Christians are reminded that Jesus will come again just as He did on that very first Christmas. It directs our attention to the consummation of the age when Christ will return in glory to judge the world. That’s a message that’s not nearly as appealing to many people as the babe in the manger that we celebrate at Christmas, but the fact that God the Son — the second Person of the Triune Godhead — condescended to earth, took on our form and was born of a woman to redeem His people who had gone astray only adds to the wonder of the season.
So resist the temptation to rush headlong into Christmas; savor Advent as we prepare to thank God for our Savior’s incarnation. Take seriously this call to prepare for His consummate return. Once Christmas has arrived, resist the culture’s rush to shudder it all until next … well, October apparently. Relish all 12 days of Christmas in celebration of Jesus’ incarnation.
The Rev’d Charles A. Collins, Jr. currently serves as vicar of the Church of the Atonement, a Reformed Episcopal Parish of the Anglican Church in North America, in Mount Pleasant. He may be contacted at drew.collins at gmail.com.