Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday of Hope

I was happy to finally be home for the first Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new church year. Advent is my favorite time of year, and this year more than ever, I need to get lost in the ritual, the time consumption, the activity, to calm myself and prepare for whatever lies ahead. I’ll go through some points of the day:

Lighting the candle: I love the Advent wreath; it’s the only time of year I ever really use candles. I like the restraint to not light all the candles at once and just focus on a singular flame during the darkest time of year. This Sunday was the Hope candle, but the sermon was on patience. I think the pastor was just as irritated as I am when people decorate for Christmas on November 1st. But it was also about patience with what God has in store, and mentioned putting in the efforts of schooling, graduating, sending out resumes, and hearing nothing back. I hate hate hate not being in control of my life right now, but at the end of the day, I know as long as I keep working and keep my eyes and heart open, my purpose will be revealed.

Installation of elders: It’s always a little awkward when we do official church business during a service, but it’s also nice. I like order. I like Robert’s Rules. I like that my church is run by laypeople, but also has a denominational structure. Nothing deep, just my taste.

Communion: This Christmas Eve marks two years of believing in some sort of transubstantiation. I won’t describe it; I can’t describe. There is no logic in this belief, and I wouldn’t even try to convert someone to believe that way if I knew how. I just know what I felt that night, and what I feel most of the time I take communion now. It’s real. It’s powerful. There is a weight on my tongue that is the weight of the universe. For that, I wish I got to partake in communion once a week, maybe even more. For now, it’s an rare treat. But because of that, my hearts jumps a little every time I see the silver plates set up on the altar.

Hanging of the Greens: It’s an annual tradition at my church, to decorate the building as a community, with a soup supper to follow. I like helping the church transform to its decorated highest. I wish I had time to look up the meanings of every single Crismon on the tree in the sanctuary or every angel on the angel tree. By next Sunday, the poinsettia tree will also be up. Even with the teasing of how some ladies will go back through and “fix” the decorations up to their standards after our attempts are done, I like the sense of family that comes from the united effort.

I’m ready to jump into the season, to sing Christmas songs and wish for snow and bake goodies and buy presents and look at lights and ponder baby Jesus. Everything else can be put on hold until January 7th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Christmastime is NOT Here

I ignored the commercial that began running the first week of October. I ignored the gift baskets on the top shelf of CVS that appeared two weeks ago. But now that Halloween is over, every store has switched over to full-blow Christmas mode. It disgusts me. It just proves how secularized Christmas has become.

Christmastime consists of Advent and Christmastide. That's November 28-January 6 this year. Not November 4-December 24. By not observing this, stores just prove how little the religiousness of Christmas matters. They hijack the season to sell, sell, sell. Advent is about preparation and waiting and love, not about red and green discount sales. And the 12 days of Christmas apparently do not exist to stores since no one here buys gifts after Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is "Throw Out the Tree and Gift Wrap" Day instead of, you know, the birth of the Christ.

Christmastime is my favorite season, but I hate the secular aspect of it. Why can't we commercialize a secular holiday and leave Christmas alone? And I also don't act like Christmas is the most important Christian holiday, because it's not. It's just the beginning of the real reason to celebrate: Easter. Lent is left alone, and Easter has been commercialized too, but not as much, and I'm glad. Leave Easter to the people who value it, and leave Christmas alone too.

I'm not singing one carol til November 28.

[Photo is of the Christmas tree is the lobby of the university center of my state school, because, you know, Christmas isn't so religious that a public school should remain separate of it.]