2 Peter 3:13-15 (NRSV)
But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
It is coming. Like the armies of Babylon descending upon the tiny tribes of Israel thousands of years ago. It is coming. Can it be stopped? I am referring of course to Commercial Christmas.
It has been pressing hard to overtake Thanksgiving. First, it was the early morning openings on Friday. "Get your cheapest X-Box ever! Just be the first in line at 4:00 AM." Then it pushed itself to 12:00 midnight openings and finally it has begun a full invasion into Thanksgiving itself. Before the tryptophan even has a chance to kick in and nod any of us off to sleep, we are showered with ads enticing us down to some big box store and take care of every one of our holiday shopping needs.
Only one or two holdout retail chains refuse to open on Thanksgiving. But like your uncles' waistbands after they have downed three plates of turkey with all the fixings, you have to wonder, "How long can those things hold out?" In some ways Commercial Christmas has already done an end-around Thanksgiving. You just need to go to nearly any store around Halloween and you will see it one aisle over from the zombie masks, pumpkin carving supplies, and bags of Halloween candy. There you will find Commercial Christmas in all its splendor: boxes of tinsel, Christmas lights and the wrapping paper with Frosty the Snowman.
Of course, the saddest part of this tale, virtually lost in all of this expansion was the first casualty of the "ever-expanding" Christmas holiday: Advent. Advent, the season of deepening darkness and flickering candles, where God's people sit in the midst of brokenness and despair and wonder if there is even a shred of peace or hope left for the world. Waiting seems to have little or no merit. It is something to be endured, overcome or sped up. Christmas has overrun Advent because it is too hard for us to live in Advent. To live in Advent is to live in that period when we are called to look at the brokenness in our world and in ourselves. Advent requires us to not only wait, but to be restless in our waiting, to refuse to embrace cheap bobbles and shiny plug-in lights as replacements for the difficult and challenging ministry of justice, restoration, and healing.
The author of Second Peter knew what it was to wait and to taste bitterness and despair. Those early struggling faith communities knew what it was to long for "righteousness," for justice with peace to make its home among them. May we also be willing to wait restlessly in the midst of our broken world and be restless enough to help build such a home during this Advent season.
Holy One, we carry within us Your vision of wholeness so that we might turn our attention to the true home that beckons us. Forgive us if we forget the homeless ones who surround us, those who have been silenced or ignored, those who have tasted the bitterness of injustice and hatred, those who might as well have no faces at all. Forgive us if we forget our own homelessness. For to be really at home is to be really at peace, and our lives are so intrinsically interwoven that there can be no peace for any of us until there is real peace for all of us. So make Your home in us this Advent that our waiting and our restlessness might not be in vain. Amen.