Since it is the holiday season, I thought I would help all of you who are cooking for your family and friends by giving you the perfect dessert recipe. Best of all, it is very simple. The dessert is called a Cherpumple. Guaranteed to induce sugar shock, all you do is make or purchase your favorite cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies, stack them on top of each other into three layers, and then bake them until they blend into one gigantic pie. Success! Cherpumple! Look it up on the internet. The Cherpumple is a real thing. It also sounds like a disgusting thing to me. Some things just aren’t meant to be mashed together like that.
As we enter Advent, I do wonder if we haven’t done the same thing with Advent and Christmas. We sing Christmas songs during Advent. After all, we love those Christmas hymns and this is the only time of the year when we can sing them. We decorate our homes and sanctuaries with Christmas trees and poinsettias during Advent and buy our Christmas presents in Advent. Perhaps we should call this season of the church year “Chradvent.”
Mine is a simple plea: may we hold onto the season of Advent just a little while before we give ourselves over to the craziness of Chradvent? We need to remember the reason for THIS season. We don’t light all four candles of the Advent Wreath all at once on the first Sunday of Advent. We light them one at a time, letting the light gather and grow. When I was a boy, my sisters and I looked forward to our Advent calendars. We received them, but we did not open every window at once. Advent was allowed to gather and grow in us.
We cheat ourselves when we jump over the Advent message to get straight to the Christmas birth. “O come, O come, Emanuel, and ransom captive Israel…” We are captives awaiting freedom, prisoners held in bondage. Do not lose hope. Light is coming! Freedom is coming! Jump right into the holiday season and we forget to wait, and watch, and wonder, and pray. We neglect the anticipating hope that is so much a part of this beautiful season. Yes, we will be delighted by Ring and Sing, and by the cantata, too. We will hang greenery in the church, probably with Christmas carols playing in the background. It will be fun and the love of God will be shared and experienced.
My plea is still out there. In the midst of all of the festivities and hustle and bustle that fill this time of year, can we, at least, create moments to retreat from the ho-ho-ho and fa-la-la to pray more deeply and to ponder the ways we might prepare more faithfully for the coming of Christ into our world and into our lives? This is the season of giving. We celebrate the giving of God’s Son to us and for us. What else can we give to Jesus, to those Jesus holds in a very special place in his heart: those in need, and those brave enough to call themselves part of his Body, the church? Jesus died for me so that I might live abundantly and eternally. How can I better live for him?
The idea of wishing you a “Happy Chradvent” is about as distasteful to me as receiving a large piece of Cherpumple to eat. Instead, I pray you all have a blessed, meaningful, and holy Advent. In a few weeks, I will be ready, finally, to wish you all a “Merry Christmas!” Not yet, though. I need these days of Advent to get me ready to say those words. Pastor Steve