This first day of Advent has me wondering about waiting and disappointment. There's a certain deliciousness to waiting, in that when you're preparing for something to happen or to arrive, that time is filled with possibility. You have not yet been disappointed by the actuality of the event or object. As a child I remember the anticipation of what I would get for Christmas. My mom would give us the Sears Wish Book (a catalogue of Christmas gifts) and we would circle what we wanted, which we generally never actually got. It took me years to realize that my Mom didn't actually shop at Sears but at the "BX", (or "PX") at the Air Force Base. This is sort of like a discount store filled with last year's products and off-brands that went unsold at regular stores, or simply just random stuff that the military got a deal on. So we got whatever happened to be on sale at the PX, which pretty much never was the cool stuff in the Sears Wish Book,(this wan an economic necessity given our military pay). Herein lies the problem with Advent having turned into the period in which we wait for the holiday of Christmas, that glorious day in which we get to open presents and overeat - in this framework for waiting we're dissappointed by all the wrong things; bad gifts, lousy relatives, over dry turkey etc... when what we should be dissappointed in is the Christmas story itself, meaning that we never can predict how God will show up in the world. When advent is about waiting on God's incarnation into the world and into our lives, as it should be, then the outcome is much better. Don't get me wrong there is still disappointment in this story as well. The King of Glory coming to earth in the form of a ....drum roll please.....helpless baby of an unwed mother???? This is the kind of disappointment which illuminates God's upside-down kingdom on Earth. It is the kind of disappointment which satisfies like the fulfillment of personal desires cannot. This is a God of irony, which I find terribly comforting.
May we all be fulfilled with the the Holy Disappointment of Advent!
Save us from the idolatry of an American Christmas
In Jesus' name,