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‘Tis The Season (But Not Quite Yet)

Don’t say Merry Christmas to me. I’m a bit of a crumudgeon when it comes to the annual celebration of Christ’s Birthday (Observed). When I’m out shopping before Thanksgiving, I get angry if I see any sort of Christmas swag […]
| Dec 4, 2013 | No comments |

Don’t say Merry Christmas to me.

I’m a bit of a crumudgeon when it comes to the annual celebration of Christ’s Birthday (Observed). When I’m out shopping before Thanksgiving, I get angry if I see any sort of Christmas swag out in the stores. I have an extensive collection of Christmas albums in my iTunes library, but I make sure they won’t randomly pop into my listening queue until after December 1st.

And, if we want to get strictly technical, it’s not Christmastime right now. It won’t be for another 21 days.

No, my friends. For many Christians, the 23-28 days leading up to Christmas is the season of Advent. In the four Sundays before Christmas, we deck out our worship spaces with blue or purple. We prominently display an Advent wreath. We bust out hymns and songs that we only sing during this time and no other (such as this old standard, which often sneaks onto Christmas CDs). And in that time, we remember the tension that we live in. We are people who live between Christ’s two arrivals. During the season of Advent, we do prepare to celebrate His birth as the Bethlehem baby. But we are also preparing ourselves for His second coming. We remind ourselves that a time is coming when He will return and that we live in hope of that day when He will make all things new.

Actually, this hymn sums up the tension perfectly:

The King shall come when morning dawns and light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills and life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child, to bear and fight and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun that lights the morning sky.

Oh, brighter than the rising morn when Christ, victorious, rose
And left the lonesome place of death despite the rage of foes.

Oh, brighter than that glorious morn shall down upon our race
The day when Christ in splendor comes and we shall see His face.

The King shall come when morning dawns and light and beauty brings.
Hail, Christ the Lord! Your people pray: Come quickly, King of kings!

  • “The King Shall Come when Morning Dawns,” Hymn #348 in the Lutheran Service Book (to avoid any Driscoll-esque problems)

Christian speculative fiction sometimes deals with eschatology. We get wrapped up in the who and where and why and when (even though we’re not supposed to). But as fun as that might be (or not, depending on your eschatological bent), let us remember to prepare our hearts for His return and join in the Church’s ancient prayer: “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”

John W. Otte leads a double life. By day, he’s a Lutheran minister, husband, and father of two. He graduated from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a theatre major, and then from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. By night, he writes unusual stories of geeky grace. He lives in Blue Springs, Missouri, with his wife and two boys. Keep up with him at JohnWOtte.com.

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Julie D
Guest

My mom gets really annoyed with stations that play Christmas music before December 1st–or even ones that go to 100% Christmas music December 1st. While I don’t agree with that, I do appreciate the chance to wait for Christmas and carefully consider the advent of Christ.

Leah Burchfiel
Member
Leah Burchfiel

Yeah, that’s right. Advent is the 4 Sundays up to Christmas, and then there’s the bit between the 25th and Jan 6 that’s another liturgical thing, ending on Epiphany. But my home church is pretty low-church, and it’s actually kinda weird that we do Advent with the wreath and the candles and such. We don’t do anything like that for Lent (people do the give-stuff-up thing on their own time, it’s not emphasized from the pulpit) or Pentecost. Even for Easter, it’s mostly just bringing in lilies for the floral arrangements.
So (to state the obvious) Christmas has this weird, almost ritualistic influence in our culture.