The First Day of Advent

But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven…keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn,or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.

Mark 13:24-27, 35-37

Today is the first day of Advent, the magical money days of the American church. We shall witness over the next few days men, women, and children dare to live a life of cheer, glee, or even humility. Forgetting the previous days of the year, we move forward in to the season of Christmas.

Our culture dictates to us that we are only worth what we can produce, consume, or commodify. We must as productive members of society never reduce or cease our consumption. Friday a man was killed as he tried to open the doors to ravenous folks seeking a deal. This guy died so others could consume more at a better value. Shame on all involved. This guy will never see another day on this earth. It was heard that people were pissed because the store was closing early to deal with the horrible situation of this mans death. What is happening to us?

Have we fallen asleep?

Mere and I saw the movie “Australia” this past weekend. It has this beautiful reoccurring stream of story. Ones story matters. It matters due to the ability of story to connect people, places, cultures, and nations. We all have a story. We all must tell our story. Story matters.

As a Christian I would hold on to this sentiment with great vigor. Story matters. Absent of story Jesus the Christ holds little water [according to theologian Paul Tillich story points to Jesus the Christ and validates and reveals Jesus as the Christ]. It is the story of Jesus as the swaddling Christ that we anticipate in this season. Advent is the story of transformation, hope, awakened in the collective history of generations past. Here in today’s pericope we see a call to alertness.

I bet this is more of an empathetic response than it is to a steadfast alertness. The kind of alertness ones has while standing guard in the military. I see this alertness as more of a deep intimate connection to the other that opens our heart, mind, and soul to the needs of the other.

In this there is a call to end individualism and move towards the collective social interaction of care and love of neighbor that radically challenges the consumer culture surrounding the Advent season in our day.

While weeping and gnashing of teeth is hell to some. To me, hell is the absence of transforming relationships that allow me to slumber in space absent of a real connection to the other.

Insomnia is what Levinas calls this. I call it Christmas spirit. It is this spirit that clouds the hearts and minds of good people into running down a man to get a good bargain. It is this good spirited Christmas jot that allows consumption to reign over transformation and intimacy.

How about something new this year? Let us buy and consume less and serve more. Can we not love and support each other with the little we do have. How important is that latest gimmick or doohickey?

These things lull us away to sleep unaware that the bridegroom is coming. There things desensitize us to the good shepherd in prison, ho is hungry, naked, and wanting. Our needs exceed his. Our lives are more important then his.  We have forgot to share our story.  Perhaps we have forgotten what our story is.  Are we awake?  If we have forgotten our story the carnival is over.

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