Scene 1: On Thursday morning, Thanksgiving Day, I was listening to my local NPR affiliate. They air the odious "Marketplace" program the last 10 minutes of each hour. Marketplace had some story/report, in which they characterized Thanksgiving Day as "the official start of the holiday season." Obviously, those people have no sense of what “holidays” and “holy days” are about.
Scene 2: On Friday, November 27, I went to a local grocery store. As I came out, the Salvation Army bell ringer greeted me with a cheery, "Merry Christmas!" I nearly froze in my steps. I wanted to turn on him with a snarl and counter, "It's not even Advent yet, asshole -- much less Christmas!" I didn't, of course. Most Americans don't even know what Advent is. They don't have a clue about the liturgical seasons. So I let it pass. But I deeply resent the American rush into the commercial Christmas.
Scene 3: Sunday morning, as I was getting ready for church, I heard the radio report that people in the U.S. had spent $10.2 billion -- 10.2 billion dollars -- on "Black Friday." Where did that $10.2 billion go? I can't help but think how much food, how many mosquito nets, how many vaccinations it could have purchased.
If you've been reading my blog over the years, you will recognize that I enter something like this funk every year. I respect and long for the peace that Advent affords us, as a contrast to the American Frenzy of Good Cheer between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Yet again, I have entered that season where I commute between Grinchville and the Longing for Peace.
In our parish newsletter, just received this week, our rector offered a marvelous message. Here are some pullouts from her message:
Perhaps we may treat Advent as a season when time is relished as a gift from God -- a gift to be savored and appreciated, rather than one to be squandered or hurtled through in frenzy.and
Preparing for birth is a deliberate exercise -- it calls for intention, and dedication of time and effort. It calls for a focus which can only be cultivated when one is rested and refreshed. My hope for each of you this Advent is that you will slow down in order to engage in holy anticipation.Obviously, slowing down for holy anticipation will be a seriously counter-cultural exercise!
I also suspect my response has to do with the fact that our diocesan missioners are currently in Lui – and that half my heart and spirit are with them. They are blogging here and here. The people of Lui are never more than a heartbeat away from my mind and my recollection of the time I spent there. It makes me humble about our experience in the U.S.