by Jeff Lucas on November 03, 2023
Christmas Expectations vs. the True Meaning of Advent
Christmas is almost here. I know that because recently I was served a hamburger by a deer.
The management of my local fast food joint had required their smiling staff to wear large, scarlet antlers festooned with blinking fairy lights. For background music, a track from the compilation playlist “Yuletide Music to Go Mad By” warbled:
Christmas is a time for us to be together
Christmas is a time for us to love each other….
I glanced around the restaurant. A lady and her husband sat silently at a corner table. There was something vaguely menacing about the way she tore tiny, carnivorous bites out of her burger. Occasional frosty glares were exchanged; palpable tension crackled between them like static electricity. And over in the other corner, another chirpy family outing unraveled as a manic infant swirled a milkshake around his head, gloriously baptizing nearby tut-tutting tables in strawberry goop.
Suddenly, the gap between the image of Christmas – as it’s supposed to be — and the reality of how it actually is yawned before me like the Grand Canyon. Is that gap part of the reason why some people find the whole business of Christmas depressing? Marital tensions, life-draining diseases, and worries about inflation are pressures that don’t take time off for Christmas, politely disappearing for the cheery season and popping back in the New Year. The idea of a happy-zone magical season can taunt us with its sheer unreality.
The unreality has spread to the reason for the season itself. I have a few Christmas cards where artists have daubed the traditional Nativity scene in unreal colors, airbrushing it with false, garish glory. A surreally calm Mary, who apparently chose to give birth while dressed from head to foot as a blue nun, glows with soft fluorescence, courtesy of a goldfish bowl-shaped halo. Joseph is usually absent from the scene; perhaps he’s out in the back trying to straighten out a wonky coffee table he made earlier. And baby Jesus Himself, adorned with a junior-sized goldfish bowl, is sitting up already and appears to be thanking the wise men for coming to his party. All rather good for one who is but thirty minutes old. Grinning cattle peer at the family from neat hay bales that whiff of Chanel Number 5. Lovely.
The irony is that Christmas is about the glorious story of the extraordinary God kissing a very ordinary world. The true splendor of the Nativity is the notion of a God landing without much fanfare or fuss, welcomed by a few shepherds who were working the graveyard shift.
Advent: The Meaning of Advent
The King shows up in squalor. Like a heavenly bungee jumper, He shunned the pristine order of heaven to dive down into our sweaty, confused, fog-bound world and announced a new order of living. Christmas says that we no longer need to haul ourselves heavenward by our own bootlaces, but that God comes to rescue those who whisper an invitation. The word "advent" simply means "coming" — at Christmas, we celebrate the truth that we are not alone. Jesus, our rescuer, savior and risen King, has come for us.
Christmas: it’s about the God who came to close the gap between us and Him, bringing us the greatest gift ever. Himself.
Candlelight Christmas Eve Services: Celebrate at Timberline Church
Join us for candlelight services on Christmas Eve as we merrily rejoice that our Savior has come. We'll hear the story of Jesus coming to earth in an ordinary stable to deliver the extraordinary gift of Himself. Let this holiday season serve as a reminder that we are never alone and Heaven has come down to lift us up! God sent His only song as a babe to bring joy, hope, and togetherness for all.