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Merry Christmas? Meaningful Advent!

Halloween was over, the trick-or-treaters were home sorting their candy, and just like that, I started hearing sleigh bells and catching glimpses of Santa and Christmas trees in places like Walgreen’s and Target. Come to think of it, I might have seen some decorated trees in Target before Halloween.

If you’re like me, you probably grumbled about it being a little too early, but another part of your spirit lifted up in spite of the season, because, after all, it’s Christmas, and Christmas is joy.

And then came Thanksgiving Day, turkey and football and a nice long nap. And Black Friday! America’s Christmas is running at full speed now, and the sights and sounds of the holiday are all around us.

Have you bought all your presents yet?

It’s Christmas!

Or is it?

Why don’t we slow down and leave a little space for Advent? You may have noticed that it hasn’t started to look a lot like Christmas at St. Matthew’s yet, and there’s a reason for that. Before we celebrate Christmas Day, the church devotes about a month to the season whose Latin name means “coming.”

Sky-blue vestments, austere hymns and a pretty Advent wreath with candles all mark a season of preparation and expectation. In our Sunday readings and liturgy. we look forward both to the birth of Jesus and to the final coming of Christ in power and glory.

The birth of the Christ Child, the Incarnation, Jesus born as God in human form: As Christians, we know that Christmas is a big part of what we’re all about. Let’s try spending Advent, the time before Christmas, in eager anticipation and spiritual preparation. Advent may start slow, but by watchful waiting we build our spirits up on Christmas night to shout a joyful, “Wow, it’s Christmas! Merry Christmas!”

Robin Garr

About Robin Garr

Robin Garr and his wife, Mary Johnson, have been members of St. Matthew’s for nearly 10 years, but Robin has spent about half that time serving other Episcopal churches in the diocese, including Ascension, St. Luke’s, and St. Thomas; he received the Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and served seminary internships at St. Matthew’s and St. Thomas; he also served three years as staff coordinator of Evangelism and Parish Life and part-time preacher and teacher at St. Thomas, and served a summer as full-time Chaplain intern at Baptist Health Louisville. In the larger world he has been a journalist at The Louisville Times and Courier Journal, and social-justice advocate with the national non-profit World Hunger Year, where he wrote a book, Reinvesting In America.
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  1. In our neighborhood there is one family which can’t decide which part of Christmas to celebrate, much less Advent. On the right side of their front lawn they have the Nativity scene positioned in front of a large cross. On the left side of the lawn they have jolly old St. Nick and all his helpers! Ho, Ho, Ho!
    I’m with you, Robin, let’s keep a thoughtful Advent.

  2. Amen.

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