Not Christmas Yet

Empty Manger Advent Christmas Waiting
Empty Manger Advent Christmas Waiting

It has begun: The annual Facebook posting about an alleged war on Christmas.

‘Tis the season of accusations of Christians being persecuted because they don’t hear the phrase “Merry Christmas”--all the while feeding the monster of Consumerism because Christmas is about buying birthday gifts for ourselves (in the name of Jesus, of course).

I often wonder how quick we’d make mountains out of molehills if we didn’t skip or gloss over Advent—the season of preparation distinct from--but often lumped in with--Christmas. I just feel like we jump straight to Christmas on December 1 and therefore we miss the lead-up; the build-up to Christmas.

One of the best things on TV right now is HBO’s The Watchmen. At the time of writing this, there’s only 1 episode left in its inaugural season and things are getting intense. The suspense is killing me. I want to know now what’s going to happen next. I’m talking with folks about the show, browsing Reddit posts, reading articles from TheRinger.com and Slashfilms.com, all the while avoiding spoilers. I can’t wait to see how they’re going bring the season to an end. Hands down, my attitude towards the show would be different if I knew the end before watching the show.

Be warned, I’m about to spoil a movie that’s 25 years old:

Think about watching a movie like The Usual Suspects for the first time knowing, from the get-go, that Verbal Kint was Keyser Söze. The movie wouldn’t be that great. Maybe we’d find more things to pick at and fuss over since we already know how the story’s going to end.

The best shows/movies/books/stories build us up for the payoff. Which is why we get so angry when people spoil a movie we’ve been anticipating.

Maybe we get worked up about (in my opinion) trivial things (like hearing “happy holidays” over “Merry Christmas”) because we don’t give ourselves the chance to reflect on the Advent season.
We skip straight to the Christmas songs and Christmas-themed food and Christmas movies and wait for Christmas Eve service and the main thing we anticipate isn’t the birth of Christ but opening the presents on Christmas morning.

Advent is supposed to prepare us for what comes at Christmas. Advent is a time to reflect; a time to recognize the tension of what is (the not-so-good) and what is to come (the good). It’s like what Mariah fantastically sings: long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Advent gives us a chance to prepare for what is to come. When my spouse and I were working towards being foster parents, there were many things we had to prepare for. We had to receive counseling; get training; take mental health exams; prepare our home to meet county standards — all this to prepare for a child to come live with us.

It wasn’t easy. There were moments where we were unsure of what we were getting in to; moments where we weren’t sure if we’d be good foster parents; moments of annoyance of getting the house up to code (we were required to get a landline. A landline!!!); moments of angst and anxiety. Yet underneath all the complex emotions was the hope and anticipation of ‘what could be’ which kept moving us forward.

Advent is incredibly important to the life of a Christian.

It is a time of introspection; a time of reflection; a time of wondering and pondering; a time of prayer and preparation; a time of anticipation and hope.

Instead of pointing fingers and raising our voices through social media platforms about everyone taking Christ out of Christmas — Advent is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ.

How are you preparing for the coming of Christ this Advent season?


Joseph Yoo is a West Coaster at heart contently living in Houston, Texas with his wife and son. He serves at Mosaic Church in Houston. Find more of his writing at josephyoo.com.