Advent Firesiders

Tradition and Today i (2013)

It is better to travel than arrive, said T.S. Eliot and in no wise does that apply more than in Advent when waiting is the essence of the season. To be sure, we could say the same to an even greater extent during Lent but somehow the forty days is too long to sustain expectations and Easter is preceded by the intense experience of Holy Week with its intense re-living of the last days and death of Jesus which, by an act of existentialism, forbids us to look forward and arrests us in the daily drama whereas Advent, on the other hand, is paralleled by the increasing momentum - some would say shallow hysteria - of the secular preparation for the great day. Secular Easter preparations amount to the premature arrival in our shops of hot cross buns and Easter eggs, both evidence of the entwining of the secular and the sacred, but the coming of the Christ Child is entwined with decorated trees and reindeer. Our purple of penitence is inescapably composed of the red of Santa with the blue of Mary.

And yet, contrary to what purists would maintain, as followers of the incarnate saviour, we are called not to turn our backs on the physical but to embrace it. To dismiss commercialism as a sign of the decadence of our consumer society when so much of it is engendered by a spirit of generosity is surely an inadequate response; and if we feel that we must bring about a more balanced realisation of Christ’s kingdom, that must start with us. The proper place to curb consumerism is not in the pulpit or on the proverbial soap box but in the way we get ready: one less frippery for our nearest and dearest and one more gift for the benighted of our world.

Easter children should have an infinite capacity for joy and a large measure of self-restraint, bringing good news and eschewing the judgment of others.