Friday, November 10, 2006

Advent vs. Christmas: The Annual Battle

There has been some encouragement on several blogs lately about girding up our pastoral loins to engage the annual battle to preserve the integrity of Advent against all the pressures to begin celebrating Christmas as soon as the Turkey has been cleared from the table.

A couple of years ago, I found this article intriguing. It addresses the pressures we face and suggests some creative ways to work with those pressures. I've never actually done what the article suggests, but I think he makes some good points--that there might be some good reasons to spend a whole month on Christmas.

What do you think?


more cows than people said...

Thanks for sharing this article. We do have some established Advent traditions, but they're mixed with anticipatory Christmas traditions and I wonder if this might work for us... Maybe next year.

Anonymous said...

When I interviewed with the PNC that eventually called me to my first position as pastor one of their questions was, 'can we sing Christmas carols during Advent?' Evidently, their interim frowned on this.

We did a mixture of both, but the Saturday before Advent started we had an Advent Lessons and Carols during which we learned what Advent really means.

Since then (ten years ago) at the churches I have served we have blended Advent and Christmas hymns, but always stressing that we are in a time of preparing to commenerate the Incarnation while praying for Christ's return.

Sometimes it takes, often it doesn't. Ended up explaining this morning the meaning of Advent again for the person helping develop Worship for our Christmas Cantata; however, was able to take the cantata itself and show her the movement from the Incarantion to the Crucifixion/Resuurection and the Promised Return.

As pastors we need to just keep plugging away, taking every teaching opportunity and making them when they are not there.

Grace and Peace,


ppolarbear said...

My childhood church split the difference. We had a 2 week advent, which was strictly advent, and then gave up for a Christmas season that started mid December.

Sue said...

This is an interesting article. I've honestly never heard Advent referred to as a "penitential season" in the church year. Really. Never.

In the UCCan it is seen as a time of waiting and preparing one's spirit for the birth of hope into our world.

It is seen as a time of quietness and reflection (not that either of those things actually happen in the midst of the insanity of the season!). I've never heard it connected to the notion of fasting before. Interesting.

Becky Ardell Downs said...

I read this article when it came out too, and was intrigued. I brought it hopefully to my worship team, which was really active and vibrant at the time. They said they were pretty much used to having advent during advent season, and they didn't mind not singing Christmas carols until Christmas eve, but if we snuck one in now and then they wouldn't mind either. But I'm dying to try this, simply because I want to celebrate Christmas throughout the month of december! I think that would be so rich. And usually we do shortchange the actual Christmas celebration, I think. It's all advent, then one or two days of Christmas, then on to epiphany. Hmmm.

the reverend mommy said...

Thanks for the reminder. I'm fighting that battle (again) on different turf this year. Joy to the World is NOT an Advent Hymn. Neither is Silent Night.


Gord said...

Of COurse Joy to the WOrld is really more of an Easter hymn, at least originally.

We tend to split the difference here. Advent 3 is traditionally our Pageant so lots of carols. Advent 4 is certainly mostly Christmas music.

The sad part is that our hymn book has some truly wonderful Advent music but in many congregations they would end up thinkng it is new every year because there is such a break between singing them.

ANd my first intro to Advent was as a penitential season, but that was never pushed hard--mind you penitential anything is rarely pushed hard in the UCCan (in my experience)

Anonymous said...

In our church, we counter the congregation's desire for Christmas with a "waiting" message. Music and sermons all have a "how long?" theme and we jealously guard the line against Christmas songs too early. That way when we finally do sing "Joy to the World" everyone's thrilled about it...just as they should be.
This year, since Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, the morning service is still firmly in Advent, so we titled it "How Much Longer? (Five More Hours!)"

Mrs. M said...

This is always frustrating to me. Everyone wearing reindeer sweatshirts on the first of November. No concept of Advent being anything other than a countdown to Christmas.