The Facebook app sneaks those other app recommendations in so smoothly. I went through the emotions of interest to intrigue to disgust in record time as I discovered, scrolling through Facebook, that someone has found a way to commercialize Advent. I figured it was in the best interest of marketing people to continue to ignore advent and start Christmas earlier and earlier each year. But under my “suggested apps,” I read this:
Advent Calendar 2013 (there’s the interest and intrigue): Discover a new app every day for the 25 days before Christmas! (there’s the disgust).
I had to click on it. The Advent 2013 app promises that you can get into the festive mood while waiting for Santa with daily mini games and daily gifts.
I’m not writing here to rail against commercialization. There are plenty of posts for that, and quite frankly, I’m willing to put up with it. Free market, free society, etc. Not to get too political, but I’m willing to put up with the downsides of an imperfect system. Better to spend a few moments thinking about what Advent really is. And this app reminded me that it’s definitely not the “exciting run-up to Christmas!”
A friend of mine who didn’t observe Advent once explained why: “I don’t like the time of year where we spend a few weeks pretending Jesus didn’t come.” It’s important to remember that Advent is not that, either. We don’t put on an act and pretend to be solemn.
So what is Advent? There are lots of better answers to the question than I can provide, but I had a thought this year that is helping me better get my mind around it. Advent is like starting on page one of your favorite book. You know it’s a great story. You know how it makes you feel. You know the end but you also know you’re going to love reading it again, probably even more this time around.
I’ll just go ahead and put too fine a point on it. To be even more accurate, Advent is like re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2006. You know the final book is coming. You have some strong hints and theories about how it will end. That’s pretty much where we’re at in the history of the world, isn’t it? And I love returning to page one of that story every single year at this time, not least because I know it’s not just a story, it’s our story. We may only have bit parts in it, but that’s enough. And it’s a joy and a privilege given by grace alone.