I've been pretty disgusted by holiday advertising already. The black Friday hoopla is one thing (and pretty out of control, if you ask me), but the Christmas advertising that started early in November has overwhelmingly presented Christmas as a consumer event with one shopper character even announcing, "Christmas: accomplished," after spending a season finding the most amazing gifts for each person in her world at the most amazing prices. Wow! What a superhero she is! From a retailer's marketing perspective, I get it. But as a person of faith, when did Christmas become all about shopping and presentation?
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ - it is thanks and praise to God through worship at this most solemn and holy of occasions in our faith story. The people of God had been waiting for hundreds of years for the promise of the coming King, and yet still they were surprised at how simply and humbly the gift of God's love arrived. "Advent' means "coming," and we now have a whole season to prepare our hearts for the arrival of God's greatest gift. Can that best be accomplished at the mall?
I received an Advent calendar this week from Amor Ministries who among their work with the poor leads mission trips into Mexico to build houses for families in need. Their simple calendar offered a box for each day of the season and asked that we do Advent differently this year, disrupting our regular routines to find time for God's good news. Finally, I thought, if we need an Advent challenge, here's one that helps us prepare for the coming of the Messiah. What if we took some time each day to spend time with loved ones and share the good news of God's love? By Christmas, we would truly be ready to celebrate the coming of the Christ and the extraordinary hope, joy and peace that God's love brings into our lives and the world.
Let's forget the mall. Let's put away the gift wrap and the to-do lists. Let's look ahead at the season and find simple ways that we can spend time loving one another and sharing the good news. May our Advent bring us closer to the love of God in our lives and the power of that love to simply and humbly change the world.