Going Through the Motions
The holiday season is upon us once again. Decorations are on sale at Wal-Mart, the radio is full of “Christmas” (really generic winter-time activity) music, and everyone around us wants to ignore the fact that Advent is a thing as much as they want to ignore the true meaning of Christmas while we begin our annual preparations and follow our own individual traditions. And while traditions are good, useful, and generally encouraged, they also create the risk of absentmindedness, of going through the motions, of doing a thing just because “it’s how we’ve always done it” while forgetting the true reasons behind any particular activity.
Between the consumerism of “secular Christmas,” the somewhat inherent bleakness of the winter season, and the stress of the incomplete items on our to-do lists as the year closes out, it’s easy to fall back on the mindlessness of traditions without thinking about the significance. We go to the midweek services because that’s what you’ve always done. We go to the candlelight Christmas Eve service just because you gotta. And by the time December 26th rolls around, you realize you didn’t really spend the Advent season doing much meditation, reflection, or actual preparation for Christmas like you were supposed to.
I’m not writing this article to try to guilt you. I don’t want to add more to your plates during a season that’s busy for everybody. Rather, I just want to encourage you to take a step back and reorient yourself this month. Remember the reasons behind the traditions – both in the Church and in your home life. Be present and engaged this coming month. Try to engage in some kind of Advent devotional to stay focused on the preparation for Christ’s arrival that this month is supposed to be about.
And then come to church fully engaged, because we like to see you here.