Today is Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, Rose Sunday, the Sunday of reprieve from the previous two weeks of self-examination and fasting as we wait, wait, wait for the coming of the Holy One in the Feast of the Incarnation, otherwise known as Christmas. For Anglicans, the Incarnation of God who became like us and one of us for our benefit is perhaps the most important day of human history. But, we don’t act like it most of the time.
Okay, so, that is supposed to be what this Sunday is, but I feel such a disconnect between what supposedly is happening and what is really happening.
Frankly, there is huge disconnect between what the Christian faith claims to be and what Christians actually are in this country. I don’t blame non-Christians for being so hesitant or outright hostile towards the Church. We have allowed the expectations of this American culture to warp our understanding of what the lived Life in Christ is all about. We vaguely see what it could be, but rarely are we willing to give up what is necessary to realize that blessed life. So, we live but a shadow of the true life God has made available to us.
What does the Epistle for today say about worry and peace? We do not have to be overwhelmed with worry, but as we present our requests to God with thanksgiving, the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and minds. What is true religion? According to James, it is that we take care of the orphan and widow in their distress and we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. How many of us practice that kind of religion? What does all this mean to us?
But, those are questions and considerations that require humidly and quiet contemplation – self-examination – and during this Christmas Season, who has time for any of that? No, we have the real holiday spirit – spend, spend, spend on more things that will ultimately prove to be worthless. We trade peace for stress, joy for anxiety, things for time spent in relationship with others, and so on.
All is not bad, of course. Giving in a spirit of joy is wonderful, and many of us are right there. But, Advent is not that. It is just that we Christians have sold our birthright for a bowl of red potage called consumerism, materialism, nationalism, and sectarianism.
This would truly be a Rose Sunday, a reprieve and relief from the hard work and revelation of self-examination and self-denial, if in fact we were doing any of it in the first place. But, most of us aren’t and we are disconnected from our Tradition and that which makes us who we are supposed to be. To bad for us! To bad for the world.