“It is exceedingly difficult to live in the tension and maintain the tension between Advent and “early Christmas” in a consumer culture… There is a-waiting that is required, and a summons to wait with discipline. But our Advent preaching must be done in a culture of instant gratification that wants to wait for nothing, a self-indulgent culture that resists any inconvenient discipline. The consumer orgy that has come to dominate Christmas shopping is the most vulgar form of “realized eschatology”; it imagines we have it all now. Consequently there is nothing yet to receive and nothing for which to hope. But Advent is the insistence that “coming soon” is the great “plus” of the newness that is “at hand” but not yet visible. In the Church season, there is a wait until Christmas, for the time when “the wondrous gift is given.” In Advent that wondrous gift is “at hand”…but not yet in hand. Thus I suggest that Advent preaching is about hope in a culture that attempts to fend off its despair by frantic self-indulgent busyness that is determined to work itself into a frazzle; that frazzle serves a) to keep from hoping and b) to keep from the hopelessness that saturates our common polity.”
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