If there are Advent rules, we’ve broken one. Right from the start, we’re out of sync.
Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas but when Christmas is on Sunday….hmmm. I went with the thought that of course Christmas counts so Advent begins the first Sunday in December this year. It will end on Christmas day. Perfect. Only, it seems most churches that celebrate Advent (maybe all of them?) began last Sunday. The one after Thanksgiving. That Sunday.
There are a few drawbacks to a congregation that is totally depending on you for these things because they don’t know when Advent is or what it is. Some will be hearing this new word and we will do our best to immerse all of them in a holiday that will focus more on the reason we celebrate Christmas than the commercialized holiday we’ve come to know.
They won’t hold this faux pax against me but maybe I’m being reminded of something else.
When I thought about how out of sync we’d be with the Christian world I realized that Jesus intentionally lived his life out of sync with the world. He came to turn things upside down a bit. To remind us that he is the way to true life, not money or status.
He is the answer to the peace we seek, not job security or marital harmony. Jesus is the only truth, not political parties or the best self-help books.
The apostle Paul writes to the Christians in Rome to “not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.” Romans 12:2
Jesus was born to a young woman, a virgin birth, impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Out of sync with the worlds customs and cause for skepticism at the least.
His birth was prophesied as a Savior, a King. But he was born in a barn, not a palace. More doubt for those waiting his heralded birth.
His ministry included eating at the home of cheaters and his small band of followers was made up mostly of fishermen; common men. He defied the customs of the day and disdained the so-called religious leaders. The world could not mold him into its image because he was the embodiment of his Father God. And he came to show us a new way. A way that may be out of step with the world but a way that leads to peace that holds through trials. It’s a way of hope.
Maybe we’ll learn something new this Advent. Maybe we’ll learn more about the unconditional love that Jesus came to give.
Here are a couple of book recommendations especially good for the Christmas season.
If you’re looking for a fresh reading of the Christmas story, I’ve found the Jesus Storybook Bible to offer that and more. It’s not just for children.
Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas offers daily reading throughout the month with space to write personal reflections. A beautiful book in all ways.