That’s how many gift purchases were made at Amazon on just one day -- Cyber Monday -- during last year’s “holiday season.” That means about 426 gifts were purchased per second! I wonder what Jesus thinks? "What does this have to do with my birth?" What do all the lights, pageantry, expensive gifts, excessive lists for Santa, and general feelings of overwhelmed festive exhaustion have to do with the in-breaking of God into our world?
Advent is upon us. Advent -- the time in our church calendar that redirects us toward our source of abundance, the hope that God will come, and the promise that God is with us now and forever. We need this reminder desperately in our own lives and in our society in which too often greed rules the day. Advent is a time of preparation, of patience, of remembering what grounds and sustains us. It is a time of waiting for the babe in the manger to be born unto us.
That said, Advent is also fun. Our waiting is steeped in rich traditions and fragrant baking, joyful gatherings and candlelit services. But how can we celebrate Advent in a way that honors the miracle of God’s incarnation without worshiping the shopping mall? How can we ditch the glitz and embrace the wonder of that vulnerable infant, greeted by two peasant parents, visited by shepherds, welcomed by angels, and hailed by magi from the east?
Together we can create new, meaningful traditions and rituals that are centered on Jesus’ birthday rather than the advent of the shopping mall. Here’s a challenge. Change one thing or do one new thing this year that will help you tune out distractions and focus on the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus.