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Advent -New Eyes for Christmas

Advent 1 – November 27, 2005
If you didn’t notice the start of Advent, I’m sure you noticed the after Thanksgiving sales. This yearly ritual of rushing to buy the latest delights seems to be an economic necessity in our culture driven by ever increasing credit lines and quarterly market reports. So if Advent doesn’t prepare our hearts, this yearly ritual will certainly remind our wallets that Christmas is just around the corner.

In the midst of this rising cacophony of non-stop parties, shopping sprees, and sentimental songs, I’d like to encourage us to pause in wonder before a silent night, a holy night. If we can stop long enough, we might start dreaming again like little children.

Some children are dreaming of drum sets and dainty dolls. They’re dreaming of Santa and sleigh bells. They’re dreaming of a night when the extraordinary invades the ordinary. They could teach us to dream again.

They could teach us to see again.

I fear we are blind and don’t even know it. We live in a time and place that other people and ages have only dreamed about. The world is literally at our fingertips. And yet, we are weary.

A certain sickness saps the soul and blinds the eyes. Like a wisp in the wind, the wonder of this world slips away. Instead of celebrating life, we stumble and curse the darkness like the foolish virgins whose lamps flickered and flashed out. Instead of enjoying the monotony of the moment, we search for the spectacular. Every experience has to top the last. Addicted to sensation, we rush to the next best thing. Our culture coddles us with sales pitches designed to accentuate our desire for comfort, entertainment, and indulgence.

We need bigger TVs, better computers, faster games, nicer cars and sexier lovers. From an early age, we learn to use tomorrow’s cash to enjoy today. And so, many people, strapped by debt, sell their souls to the credit bureau, and sacrifice their families on the altar of cash almighty. We’re working ever longer and harder to bring in the just a little more money.

Yet deep within many of us, there is an ache, a longing for simple things, simple joys, simple love. Every day, we enjoy simple delights that we fail to see or celebrate. GK Chesterton once said “Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs?”

Chesterton was convinced that sin blinded us to the wonder and the miracle in the monotonous. Only the innocent child and the heavenly Creator can rejoice in the same thing day after day after day after day. Listen to Chesterton explain his point in Orthodoxy:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exalt in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exalt in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. He has the eternal appetite for infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Would to God that we might grow young again. Would to God that we might have eyes that see. That is my hope this Advent.

In a way, I hope these emails will come like windows in an advent calendar. May each reflection be but a window that opens our eyes to a little glimpse of the wonder of God’s incarnate love, surrounding us even now with little common graces that we blindly ignore each day. In some small way, may these emails serve to prod us, awaken us, and keep us looking out into glorious wonder all around us.

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