the purpose of advent is to prepare for christmas.
the purpose of christmas is… what is the purpose of christmas?
one answer, rather unpopular, would be: to remember that god came into the history as Jesus, and did all those great things.
another answer, slightly more popular, would go thus: christmas is the time for charity and good gifts, and family reunions, and all those things that give one a warm fuzzy feeling. why? because it’s been so for a couple of hundred years.
yet another answer, probably the most popular (and yes, dear readers, i am being no less than provocative here) runs thus – christmas is the time of joy. therefore we spend the time before it in a hurry to shop, and to run, and to go get things, and depressed because we cannot.
on christmas eve the churches are full. not because the amount of christians had suddenly increased exponentially, no. because going to church on christmas eve is part of that warm fuzzy feeling one is supposed to cultivate at that time.
and this brings me to the point of this post. the place of god (the living God) in our lives.
the world of warm seasonal fuzziness presupposes that the god who enters history as a baby, never grows up to be the God who takes away our sins by his bloody death. this world has a place set for God — in a manger, in a galaxy far far away, a tiny doll with expiry date December 26, insert your year here.
the world of seasonal rush and hurry also has a place for god. it is not in this world. there are songs about the joy of christmas, simulacra of various hurrying stocking-filling entities riding a sledge drawn by genetically undecided northern animals, lights and decorations, but nobody is home. the reason for that joy and festivity is from another world, and therefore not in this world.
when God was born into the history of this world, he also lived part of it. and then he died a messy death, not because he was suicidal, but because his creation had messed up so much. and then he rose from the dead, and returned to his place in heaven. so maybe in that unpopular world, the place of God is on his throne of glory, surrounded by angels, watching his children, his faithful, to live in him.
and the place of God in the worlds of his followers is not in a manger, not in a historical point far, far away, but right beside those who walk with him, and grow in him, and spread his love and compassion not seasonally and traditionally, but at all times, in all seasons.
because all seasons are christmas, when one is born in Christ.