St. Thomas' Parish at Dupont Circle – Washington, DC

Selling Advent

Posted by WayneFloyd

There are almost as few things for sale with an Advent-theme as there are Lenten-collectibles.  Lent, of course, is focused on the events leading up to the end of Jesus’ life at the age of thirty-three.  Lent is a hard sell, and few people try to make a living off of Lenten trinkets.

But it comes as a surprise to many of us that one of the central themes of Advent is the final judgment.  Advent, we are jolted to learn, isn’t just about waiting for the baby Jesus in the manger, but also our anticipation of the end of all things at the last judgment when Christ comes back on ‘the last day’ as the Lord of all of creation for all time .

No wonder that both seasons – Lent and Advent – are ‘hard sells’.  They are, after all, periods for introspection about “the time of this mortal life” (BCP, 211), and thus have a certain ‘penitential’ quality to them – a tone of giving-up or turning-loose of our attachment to ‘things’. So ‘selling Advent’ sounds like an oxymoron, if not just in bad taste.

As a result, we are left with Advent Wreaths and Advent Calendars for the most part, although personally I can never find where I put the four-candle-styrofoam-form last year for my wreath, and I always get to about December 15th before I realize that I’m ten days behind with my calendar already, and give in to sloth.

So it’s been interesting to think about whether there are actually any ‘consumer goods’ out there with Advent themes that are worth considering even in an age of recession. The trick, of course, is how not to fast-forward to Christmas, even when trying to celebrate Advent — like this Nativity Advent Wreath I found for sale online this week.

In protest you could wear an “It’s Only Advent” button while you’re out doing your Christmas shopping.  Or you you could be less self-righteous than I tend to be and look at a wonderful website and blog by the artist Jan Richardson to see some of her fabulous Advent art and to buy one of her Advent books – Nancy and I own Night Visions and have just ordered The Advent Door.

Here’s someone who’s been captivated by Advent, and her art can unleash a whole new set of associations about this special season.

Spend some time looking at her Advent Hours Series of Greeting Cards, or one of her fantastic prints, like “Wise Women Also Came.”

Advent is such a curious season for so many Christians because it invites us to entertain the possibility that God chose to be in our midst precisely because creation is one of God’s favorite places to be.  God took flesh, became incarnate, because our flesh was worthy of bearing God … then … and still is now.

It’s hard to sell Advent because we’ve been so thoroughly taught that our bodies are bad that we can no longer even imagine they are good enough to be God’s place to dwell.  So we wait in Advent for this miracle to become ours again  … althought it is already, if we were only awake enough to see it.

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